Commercial and Residential Leases
A lease or rental agreement is the key document of both commercial and residential tenancies, setting out important issues, such as:
- The length of the tenancy
- The amount of rent and deposits the tenant must pay, and in commercial leases how the rent is calculated, and any rental increases during the term, or optional extended terms
- The number of people who can live on the rental property or the size of the premises
- Who pays for utilities in residential leases and who pays common area maintenance or increases in operating costs in commercial leases
- Limitations on uses of the premises, and for residential tenancies whether the tenant may have pets
- Whether the tenant may sublet the property or assign the lease
- The landlord's access to the rental property
- The tenants obligations to maintain insurance, and
- Who pays attorney's fees if there is a lawsuit concerning the meaning or implementation of the lease or rental agreement
Leases and rental agreements should always be in writing, even though most states enforce oral (spoken) agreements for a certain period. While oral agreements may seem easy and informal, they often lead to disputes. If a tenant and landlord later disagree about key agreements, the end result is all too likely to be an expensive lawsuit, with court testimony, over who said what to whom, when, and in what context.
Being a successful landlord requires lots of practical know-how. Both California and Federal law regulate nearly every aspect of the landlord tenant relationship. Not knowing the rules can result in expensive, time consuming lawsuits. Using generic or outdated lease forms, not prepared specifically in light of California law may not be compliant with the laws of California. Asking the wrong questions during applicant screening, such as asking a disabled person about his or her disability or asking if a couple is married, can expose the landlord to claims of illegal discrimination, if the applicant doesn't get the rental. Making promises that the landlord doesn’t deliver on is also a frequent source of litigation.
Mehlman Law Group has extensive experience in drafting leases for both commercial and residential landlords, and in reviewing and seeking changes to leases for tenants. As litigators, we also are familiar with problems that lead to lawsuits between landlords and tenants and in the leasing process we draft provisions and advise the parties on how to avoid common disputes.
For assistance with leases, call us at 925-935-3575.