What Every Renter Needs to Know

Renting is and has been in high demand in the Silicon Valley, so here’s some important information every renter should know, starting with deposit.

Getting your deposit back

In California, a landlord has up to 21 days to refund your full security deposit, fewer deductions for specified damages. Your landlord also must send you copies of receipts for the charges that the landlord incurred to repair or clean the rental until and that the landlord deducted from your security deposit.

How should your apartment look? Well, it may seem like common knowledge but if your place is a pigsty, you’ll be the one paying for the cleanup. Just leave the place looking like it did when you moved in…or just recently cleaned.

TIP: Take photos the day you move in and send them to your landlord. That way your he/she can’t blame or charge you for the damage you didn’t’ cause.

Lease Agreement.

I can’t stress enough but take your time, READ & ANALYZE every word of it. You must understand the terms and conditions of your lease, so you can reclaim your deposit. Generally, you won’t be responsible for regular “wear and tear”, but every lease may define that differently. Read it, then read it again, and if it all checks out, sign away.

Broken appliances

CALL YOUR LANDLORD! If something in the apartment gets damaged, contact your landlord or super. Appliances are usually fixed by the owner of the building (in this case, not you). Don’t wait long though, if time goes by, chances are your landlord can start assuming you did it.

This one is a no-brainer, but I’ll tell you anyways. No matter how confined you may sometimes feel in your apartment, disregard the thought of knocking down a wall you deem to be extraneous. Chances are, this act of demolition will come back to haunt you, so just leave it alone.

As a tenant, you have the right to apartment repairs, privacy, that kind of stuff. Things like anti-discrimination laws, your right to privacy, and of course, the limits and deadlines for security deposits. Keep in mind, tenants’ rights differ from state-to-state so make sure you’re up-to-date with your state rights.


Best not to have pets is something a crazy person would say, not me, just make sure they are trained and clean up after them. Also, a landlord cannot turn you down if you have a service animal, that will be called discrimination.

Unsafe Conditions

If you cannot safely live in the apartment, you may have a legal right to abandon the apartment and stop paying rent. Obviously, this is last resort and you can expect some kind of legal struggle if you’re breaking a lease in doing so. But, if the apartment is clearly usage and the landlord has made no effort to remedy the situation, the law will usually favor the tenant.

TIP: PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING. Every time you talk to your landlord and some kind of change is happening or will happen, follow it up with a letter or email, for example:

“ It was nice speaking with you yesterday about our apartment. We greatly appreciate you hearing our concerns regarding the leak in our bedroom roof and that you agreed to have someone look at it within the week. If anything changes, please let us know as soon as possible.”

Want more info on rental laws…click here

That’s it for now, thank you for reading.

-Damaris S.