Residential Rental Agreement and Condition of Premises Addendum – Form 551 and 560
Periodic and fixed-term tenancies distinguished
Residential landlords and tenants either enter into a:
- periodic rental agreement; or
- fixed-term lease agreement.
Residential periodic tenancies are documented in the form of month-to-month rental agreements. [See RPI Form 551]
Alternatively, when leasing a residential property on a fixed rental-rate basis for a specific period of time, the document used is a lease agreement. [See RPI Form 550]
Both residential rental and lease agreements grant and impose the same basic rights and obligations on landlords and tenants. Their difference lies in the expectation of continued occupancy and the obligation to pay future rent.
A month-to-month rental agreement runs for an indefinite period of time. The tenant’s right to occupy the property on the same terms automatically renews monthly, until modified by the landlord or terminated by either the tenant or the landlord. [See RPI Form 551 §3]
Periodic tenancies may be terminated by either the landlord or tenant on 30 days’ written notice. As an exception, when a residential tenant’s occupancy of a unit exceeds one year, the landlord needs to serve the tenant with at least 60 days’ written notice. [Calif. Civil Code §1946; see RPI Form 569 and 569-1]
On the other hand, a lease agreement creates a tenancy that continues for a finite period of time. At the end of a fixed-term tenancy, the tenant’s right of possession automatically expires as agreed in the lease and without further notice. The termination of the tenancy is set by the expiration date in the lease agreement. [See RPI Form 550 §3]
The Residential Rental Agreement published by RPI (Realty Publications, Inc.) is used by a leasing agent, property manager or landlord when renting a residential property on a month-to-month basis, to grant the tenancy and set the rent to be paid, identify who will pay which utilities, and allocate maintenance responsibilities between the landlord and tenant. [See RPI Form 551]