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A commercial lease termination letter in California is a written notice sent by the landlord or tenant to terminate a commercial lease agreement. A commercial lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant to rent commercial property, such as office spaces, retail stores, or industrial warehouses. Terminating a commercial lease can be a complex process and requires careful attention to the terms and conditions outlined in the lease agreement.

In California, specific rules and regulations govern commercial lease termination, and failure to follow them can result in legal and financial consequences. This article overviews the important considerations for drafting and sending a commercial lease termination letter in California.

Essentials of Commercial Lease Termination Letter

When drafting a commercial lease termination letter in California, there are several essentials that both landlords and tenants should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and lawful termination process. These essentials include:

  • Proper Notice Period

    The notice period required for commercial lease termination in California is typically specified in the lease agreement. If the notice period is not specified, the California Civil Code requires that either party give at least 30 days' notice before the termination date. Providing the appropriate notice period is crucial to avoid any legal or financial consequences.

  • Clear and Concise Language

    The termination letter should be written concisely to avoid misunderstandings. It should clearly state that the lease and effective termination date are being terminated.

  • Reason for Termination

    While not required, including the reason for termination can help avoid disputes and potential legal actions. For example, if the termination is due to a breach of the lease agreement, it should be clearly stated in the letter.

  • Return of Security Deposit

    If the tenant provided a security deposit, the letter should address the return of the deposit. The letter should specify the amount of the deposit and the date by which it will be returned.

  • Follow-Up Actions

    The letter should outline any follow-up actions required, such as property inspections or returning keys or access cards.

  • Proper Delivery

    The termination letter should be delivered according to the terms of the lease agreement. In most cases, it should be delivered in writing via certified mail or personal delivery with proof of receipt.

  • Legal Review

    Before sending the termination letter, both landlords and tenants should have it reviewed by a legal professional to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

Reasons for Terminating a Commercial Lease

There are several reasons why a commercial lease may be terminated in California. Below are some of the most common reasons and an explanation of each point:

  • Expiration of the Lease Term

    This is the most common reason for terminating a commercial lease. When the lease term ends, the lease agreement is considered fulfilled, and the tenant must vacate the premises. If the parties wish to continue the lease, they must negotiate and execute a new lease agreement.

  • Tenant Breach of Lease Terms

    If a tenant violates lease agreement terms, the landlord may have the right to terminate the lease. Common examples of lease violations include failure to pay rent, subletting without permission, and damaging the property.

  • Landlord Breach of Lease Terms

    If the landlord violates any of the lease agreement terms, the tenant may have the right to terminate the lease. Common examples of landlord breaches include failure to make necessary repairs or maintenance and failure to provide essential services like heat, water, or electricity.

  • Mutual Agreement between the Landlord and Tenant

    If the landlord and the tenant agree to terminate the lease before the end of the lease term, they may do so by signing a written agreement. This can occur for various reasons, such as the tenant relocating to a new location or the landlord needing to sell the property.

  • Eminent Domain

    The government may seize property through eminent domain for public use. The lease may be terminated if the property is subject to eminent domain.

  • Destruction of the Property

    The lease may be terminated if the property is destroyed by fire or natural disaster. In some cases, the lease may provide for termination if the property is damaged beyond repair.

  • Tenant Abandonment

    If the tenant abandons the property, the landlord may be able to terminate the lease. Abandonment occurs when the tenant vacates the premises without the intent to return or give proper notice to the landlord.

It is important to note that the termination of a commercial lease may have legal consequences, such as potential damages for breach of contract. Therefore, it is advisable to seek legal advice before terminating a commercial lease in California.

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Key Terms

  • Commercial Lease: A legal agreement between a landlord and a tenant that outlines the terms and conditions for renting a commercial property.
  • Termination Clause: A provision in the lease agreement specifies the circumstances under which the lease can be terminated.
  • Notice Period: The amount of time a tenant is required to give the landlord before terminating the lease.
  • Early Termination: Ending a lease agreement before its expiration date.
  • Breach of Contract: Violation of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement by either party, which can lead to termination of the lease.
  • Unilateral Termination: Termination of a lease agreement by one party without the other party's consent.
  • Mutual Termination: Termination of a lease agreement by mutual consent of both parties.
  • Surrender of Lease: The act of voluntarily returning possession of the leased property to the landlord before the expiration of the lease agreement.
  • Exit Condition: The terms and conditions the tenant must meet before terminating the lease agreement.
  • Security Deposit: A sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord as security against any damage or default on rent payment.


Terminating a commercial lease in California can be a complex process with legal implications, so it is crucial to follow the proper procedures and seek legal advice if necessary. A commercial lease can be terminated for various reasons, such as the expiration of the lease term, breach of lease terms by either the landlord or tenant, mutual agreement between the parties, eminent domain, destruction of the property, or tenant abandonment.

Landlords and tenants must communicate clearly and document all steps taken to ensure that the lease is terminated correctly and without any legal repercussions. A well-drafted commercial lease termination letter in California can help protect both parties and minimize potential disputes.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

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With over ten years of intellectual property experience, I’m happy to work on your contractual matter. I am very diligent and enjoy meeting tight deadlines. Drafting memoranda, business transactional documents, termination notices, demand letters, licenses and letter agreements are all in my wheelhouse! Working in a variety of fields, from construction to pharmaceutical, I enjoy resolving any disputes that come across my desk.

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