The Civil Code of California contains the requirements for a landlord and tenant to properly terminate their tenancy and lease agreement to avoid automatic lease renewal. California recognizes both written and oral lease agreements. A tenant's failure to terminate the lease with adequate notice may extend the lease to a month-to-month tenancy.
California requires tenants to provide their landlords with adequate written notice to terminate the rental agreement. Failure to provide notice may automatically renew the tenant's lease and obligate the tenant to pay future rent payments for the entire tenancy. The advance notice requirements depend upon the type of tenancy between the landlord and tenant. Typically, shorter tenancies such as month-to-month tenancies require less notice of intent to terminate or not renew the lease.
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General Periodic Tenancy Notice Rule
California law requires the tenant to provide the same amount of notice as the amount of days between monthly rent payments. For instance, tenants who pay monthly rent must provide the landlord with at least 30 days written notice prior to vacating. Tenants who pay rent on a weekly basis must provide the landlord with the written notice of intent to vacate at least seven days prior to vacating. The written notice requirements in the lease may override these California default rules. For instance, tenants who sign a written lease with a landlord containing a lease provision requiring additional notice must comply with the written lease. However, landlords may not require notice exceeding 30 days.
If the lease has expired and the landlord and tenant have not signed a new agreement, then the previous lease automatically converts to a monthly tenancy agreement. Landlords may modify the lease agreement every month with notice as required under the lease. Lease agreements that cover a fixed term of tenancy typically do not renew unless the lease provides for automatic renewal or requires affirmative steps from both parties to end the lease agreement.
The rental agreement contains the address where the tenant must mail the notice. California law deems the landlord as having received constructive notice when a tenant mails the notice to the address within the lease and provides proof of mailing through certified mail or certified delivery.
Since landlord-tenant laws frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.