Returning to renting after owning a home? Know your rights, and get a good deal.

By | August 29, 2009

There are many places for rent in my town right now.

Home owners returning to renting: In my town at least, Owners/Managers are making deals left and right on rentals. Most 2 bedroom places list for around $1250, but …  if you ask in the right way, the real going rate is about $1080. Some places give first month’s rent free. Some let you paint. Some have pools that are open all night.

Good news: I’ve been up front with each apartment about my bad credit due to a pending short sale. I’ve had several comments that this is better than a foreclosure, and most importantly, they’ve all been very sympathetic. Everyone I’ve talked to is aware of the housing market disaster and I’m told they will not hold my lack of payments to the bank against me in determining my eligibility for renting. A few places don’t even run credit checks. Most don’t charge a fee or will waive the fee for the credit check they do.

Did I mention that my house sold for $170,000? The short sale is going forward.  Home inspection was today. No word from my CPA yet about the California tax consequences of $130,000 debt cancellation income in 2009, that’s the looming question.

Watch for hidden fees! Apartments have started charging for:

  • Water Sewer and Garbage (this is new, they can and some do!)
  • Mandatory renter’s insurance (seems to be legal? )
  • Parking (fully lame,  but legal, be sure to ask!)
  • Making you pay for paint and carpet cleaning when you move out, even for normal wear and tear. (often this is NOT legal!)

As far as I can tell, these rate sheets that apartments have with painting and carpet cleaning fees built in are not legal because California Civil Code Section 1950.5(b),(e) prohibit withholding security deposits for normal wear and tear.

For many years, landlords, tenants and courts used the “clean as it was when the tenant moved in” standard as the practical standard for determining whether the departing tenant left the rental unit clean. A new law has made this practical standard the legal standard as well. (Civil Code Section 1950.5(b)(3). The new legal standard applies to tenancies for which the tenant’s right to occupy the unit began after January 1, 2003. ….

the tenant is not responsible for damages resulting from normal wear and tear (Civil Code Sections 1950.5(b),(e))

A landlord can withhold from the security deposit only those amounts that are reasonably necessary for these purposes. The security deposit cannot be used for repairing defects that existed in the unit before you moved in, for conditions caused by normal wear and tear during your tenancy or previous tenancies, or for cleaning a rental unit that is as clean as it was when you moved in.(Civil Code Sections 1950.5(b),(e).) A rental agreement or lease can never state that a security deposit is “nonrefundable.”193ca.gov

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