I have rental properties in two different states and have been managing tenants for about 10 years and now planning on renting out our condo in Northern California, which is a very tenant friendly place. I take pride in finding great tenants - so far, but I need to prepare for my future California tenants. Is there any provisions that are must have or should have in a rental agreement in California?
I wouldn't advise a DIY contract in CA if you are out of state and using a property manager they should already have a lease they use
I'd recommend using either a CAR (California Association of Realtors) or CAA (California Apartment Association) residential lease in CA.
@Jackie Sladky You definitely need to use a strong lease that's been vetted by an attorney, not just one that a friend who happens to be a landlord in California happens to use. Your friends may never have had a problem with their lease, but almost any lease will work until there's a problem and you have to go to court - and then it's too late. You don't want to find out then that there was a problem with your lease.
Either of the leases mentioned by @Chad Hale have been vetted and would work. (Between the two, the CAR lease is more comprehensive.)
Another option is to have a local landlord-tenant attorney prepare a lease for you. (Chances are, if they practice in that field, they already have a lease prepared.) If you're concerned about having the most landlord-friendly provisions in your lease, that's really the way to go.
To give you an idea, the CAA rental agreement is about 4 pages, the CAR rental agreement is 6 pages, and the one I hired an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law (who has personally handled over 40,000 eviction cases) is 35 pages. You can bet the provisions in his lease come from years of experience litigating eviction cases.