Does my California landlord need to give me a copy of the lease in Spanish?

Learn whether a landlord in California must provide a copy of your lease in a foreign language.

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Question

My non-English speaking father is getting ready to sign a lease for a new apartment in Northern California. Does the landlord have to give him a copy of the lease in Spanish (my father’s native language)?

Answer

It depends on whether the landlord discussed the lease in Spanish,  and whether and how  a translator was involved in lease discussions. California state law (Civil Code § 1632) spells out the following rules on the subject:

If the landlord and your father discussed the lease primarily in Spanish, the landlord must give your father (the tenant) an unsigned version of the lease in Spanish before asking  your father to sign the lease.

But, if your father supplied his own translator, such as an adult child (maybe you), who is not a minor and who can speak and read Spanish and English fluently, this rule does not apply.

The rule does apply (that is, the landlord must give your father an unsigned version of the lease in Spanish) in the following circumstances:

  • your father supplied a translator who does not meet the above two requirements (in terms of age and language fluency—for example, if your teenage daughter was the translator during lease discussions—or,
  • the landlord did the translation (or supplied a translator) during lease discussions.

The above California rules also apply to leases negotiated in other languages, specifically Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

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