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Landlord, tenant rights in California

In California, tenants and landlords have certain rights after signing a commercial lease or residential rental agreement. For instance, state law allows a tenant to assign a commercial lease to another party. In some cases, it may be possible to assign a residential lease, although most leases restrict this. In the case of a commercial lease, a landlord may be able to restrict assignment assuming said restriction is reasonable.

Tenants who have signed a residential lease agreement may be able to withhold rent if certain repairs are not made. Under certain circumstances, commercial tenants may also legally withhold rent if repairs are not made. However, a commercial lease contract would have to state which repairs that a landlord is obligated to make as part of the agreement. Even if the lease agreement stipulates that repairs must be made, a tenant may still need to sue for breach of contract after paying rent instead of withholding it.

Residential lease agreements may not include terms that modify the California eviction laws. However, commercial lease agreements may include terms that modify certain parts of the eviction law. For example, it may be possible for a tenant to waive his or her right to a trial by jury. A landlord could accept partial rent payments without waiving his or her right to take possession of a property.

Landlord or tenants who are engaged in lease disputes may wish to hire a business or commercial law attorney. An attorney may be able to review the lease to determine whether or not it meets state law and whether or not it has actually been breached. If it has been breached, legal counsel may be able to help the breached party seek relevant relief under the law.

Source: SF Gate, "California Commercial Landlord-Tenant Law", John Stevens, December 30, 2014

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