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Tenants Basic Legal Rights
A tenant’s basic legal rights that are always present no matter what the rental agreement or lease states include all of the 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 unit
- The right to a refund of the security deposit, or a written account 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
- Rights under warranty of habitability
- Protection against retaliation eviction (Source: www.dca.ca.gov- “California Tenants”)
Most property management companies will have a Rental Property Condition Check List that you and your roommate can go through and note all pre-existing damages. You can even take it one step further and take photos of all preexisting damages. Keep records for you and your roommate to refer back to, if needed.
Understand the Rules of Where You Live
Each apartment complex/property management company may have its own set of rules and regulations. For example if you live in an apartment...where can guests park? Where can I store my bike?
Be Responsible For Your Guests
Legally, you are responsible for your guests. If your friend accidentally spills paint on your carpet, you and your roommates will be held responsible by the property management company for the cleaning or replacement of that carpet.
Remember all leased parties are equally responsible for anything that may come up. This includes damage to the rental unit and fines that you may receive from the landlord.
Consider Rental Insurance For Your Property
It is important to know that your property manager is not responsible for your personal property. You may want to consider rental insurance. A rental insurance policy offers you coverage for the theft, loss, or destruction of your personal belongings. This can help you replace the items you use on a day-to-day basis, from your clothing to your appliances to your furniture - as well as your more expensive items.
You Have a Warrant of Habitability
A rental unit must be habitable, or fit to live in. Legally, this means the unit must be fit for occupation and complies with state and local building and health codes that could affect tenants' health and safety. More information here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml
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