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Top 10 Tips to Avoid Risk When Creating a Rental Lease Agreement | Del Mar Property Management

Top 10 Tips to Avoid Risk When Creating a Rental Lease Agreement | Del Mar Property Management

Your lease agreement is your first defense against the risk and liability that often comes with renting out a Del Mar property. You want to make sure it protects you and your investment against disputes, claims, and miscommunications. 

We have a top-10 list to help you create a strong rental lease agreement. This is an excellent starting point, whether you’re renting out one property or you have an entire portfolio of investment homes.  

  1. Make sure your lease is legally enforceable

It’s tempting to pull a lease template off the internet or to simply copy a lease agreement that was available in Staples or Office Depot. This is a mistake. You need a California-specific lease agreement that reflects all the laws and requirements in this state. Your lease agreement won’t hold up in court if it’s a Florida lease or a Nevada lease. 

  1. Protect your rights as a property owner 

You’ll want to make sure you have an owner-friendly lease agreement. The rental laws in California are extremely tenant-friendly. Your lease agreement should be focused on the protections you and your investment property require.

  1. Include all the necessary information

Your lease agreement must include the basics, such as identifying information, contact information, the amount of rent, and the lease terms. Consult with a Del Mar property management, real estate attorney, or a professional association that can ensure you’ve included all the relevant terminology and clauses. 

  1. Talk about your lease agreement with your tenant

It’s easy to send the lease agreement to your tenant electronically and wait for the digital signature. However, we’ve found that it’s better to go over the lease in detail with your tenant, especially the rent collection policy and the procedures for requesting maintenance. They need to know what to expect and what they’re responsible for. Have them initial certain parts so you have a documented record that they understood what they’ve read.

  1. Don’t forget the rent control language

Maybe your rental property is exempt from rent control or maybe it’s included in the statewide rent control laws. Either way, you have to put the language into the rental agreement so your tenant knows whether they’re protected by rent control. 

  1. Include all Addenda

You’ll have the lease agreement and then you’ll also have the addenda. This might be a pet policy if you’re renting out a pet-friendly home or the lead paint disclosure. 

  1. Provide for amendments

Make sure your lease reflects what will happen at the end of the lease term. Does it automatically renew or will you offer tenants a new lease? Will you go month to month or will an amendment to the original lease agreement be included. The process for any changes or amendments to the lease agreement must also be spelled out.

  1. Include rules

Be specific about what a tenant is permitted to do and not permitted to do while renting your property. This lease agreement should cover guests, parking, smoking, and criminal activity. If you’re renting out a home in an HOA, you’ll need to include those rules and regulations as well. 

  1. Pay attention to font size

Courts will want to see a font size that’s reasonable and easy to read. While an 8 point font is likely the smallest you can use, we recommend a sturdy 12 point legible font. Some sections of your lease agreement need a specific type and font size, including the rent control language. 

  1. Keep it simple


Lease agreements are like any legal contract - wordy and sometimes incomprehensible. It doesn’t have to be that way with your rental contract. Keep all of the information clear and concise to eliminate the risk that there will be misunderstandings or errors. 

We manage the execution of a lot of lease agreements in Del Mar and throughout southern California. If you’d like some help with yours, please don’t’ hesitate to contact us at Harcourts Avanti. 

Harcourts Avanti is a full-service property management company that manages long term as well as vacation rentals in Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Cardiff, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach, and the surrounding San Diego areas.