Renting and Leasing
If asked to complete a rental application, have available the following information:
  • Current and former addresses
  • Current and past employment
  • Credit references
  • Copy of your credit report
  • Pet résumé that summarizes your pet’s best qualities

You may be charged a nonrefundable application fee to cover the cost of processing your application: running credit checks, verifying rental histories and the like. Properties also may charge an application deposit, which usually becomes part of a security deposit if the application is approved. If the application is declined, the application deposit usually is refunded.

Many apartment communities have strict policies regarding pets, often limiting them to 20 pounds and requiring a pet deposit. When outside, a pet must be kept on a leash and walked only in designated areas. Apartment communities employ full-time maintenance people to handle repairs and perform preventive maintenance, with some offering 24-hour emergency repair services. If leasing from an owner, be sure to establish responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

After searching, weighing your options and deciding on the property to rent, you will want to get settled into your new home as soon as possible. Luckily, many buildings offer Virtual Leasing Offices on their websites that allow you to start the application process 24 hours a day. Before applying for a rental, you may want to check out your credit record with a report from a consumer-reporting agency to clear up any problems or mistakes on your record. Identity thieves can wreak havoc on your credit without your knowledge, and correcting the damage will need to be started right away because it takes time.

Most landlords use printed forms for their leases and rental agreements; however, printed forms may differ from each other. There is no standard rental agreement or standard lease. Therefore, carefully read and understand the entire document before you sign it. The written rental agreement or lease should contain all of the promises that the landlord or the landlord’s agent has made to you, and should not contain anything that contradicts what the landlord or the agent told you. If the lease or rental agreement refers to another document, such as “tenant rules and regulations,” get a copy and read it before you sign the written agreement.

Other important considerations for renters are similar to those faced by homebuyers: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, schools and districts, commuting distance and time and convenience of lifestyle options, such as shopping centers, malls, restaurants and entertainment. Amenities to be considered include washer and dryer connections, a fireplace, fitness facilities and covered parking.

Prioritizing features and amenities on a checklist can help potential renters find the apartment home best suited to meet their needs and preferences. Following are things to consider during your search:
  • Are the kitchen appliances clean and working? Do the stove’s burners work? Check the oven, does it work? Is there sufficient water pressure coming from the kitchen sink faucet? Is there enough kitchen counter and shelf space? Does the dishwasher work?
  • Do the windows open, close and lock? Do the bedroom windows open onto a noisy or potentially dangerous area?
  • Are the closets big enough to accommodate your belongings? Is there any additional storage space?
  • Do the electrical outlets work and are there enough?
  • Is there any sign of pests or bugs?
  • Do the washer and dryer work properly?
  • Is there a garage in the building for your car or one nearby? How is the parking for guests?
  • How is the neighborhood? Does it feel safe? Is the building close to transportation and shopping?
  • Who pays the utilities? It varies from place to place.

Tenants have basic legal rights that are always present, no matter what the rental agreement or lease states. These rights include all of following:
  • Limits on the amount of the security deposit that the landlord can require you to pay
  • Limits on the landlord’s right to enter the rental unit
  • The right to a refund of the security deposit, or a written accounting of how it was used, after you move
  • The right to sue the landlord for violations of the law or your rental agreement or lease
  • The right to repair serious defects in the rental unit and to deduct certain repair costs from the rent, under appropriate circumstances
  • The right to withhold rent under appropriate circumstances
  • Rights under the warranty of habitability
  • Protection against retaliatory eviction

Under California law, a lease or rental agreement cannot say that a security deposit is nonrefundable, so when the tenancy ends, the landlord must return any payment put down as a security deposit unless the landlord properly uses the deposit for a lawful purpose, such as repair to the unit not due to normal wear and tear.

You have a right to demand that the landlord repair any condition that materially affects your health and safety. Under California law, by renting you the property, the landlord guarantees that the unit will be a fit place to live; that is, it must be habitable or fit for occupation by human beings and that it substantially complies with state and local building and health codes that materially affect tenants’ health and safety.

Buying Your New Home Thanks to a sound economy, ...
Building Your Custom Dream Home Now that you are ...
Metropolitan Living Across the Bay East Bay is the ...
Learning From Kindergarten to College California’s public education system ...
Your Guide to Financing and Mortgage Although a newcomer ...
Quality Health Services for Bay Area Residents The San ...
Protecting Your Family and Property in San Francisco Once ...
Trailing Spouses—Job Hunting in the Bay Area Many San ...
Planning and Managing Your Move It’s been a hectic ...
Staying Organized Before The Move You’ve just received exciting ...
Alternatives to Buying a Home As a newcomer to ...
San Francisco In Depth Officially named the City and ...
An Unmatched Quality of Life San Francisco is one ...
The Technology Capital of the West Coast South Bay ...
Ease of Living With A View If you ask ...