In California, rental property is in high demand. Since there has been a housing shortage for quite some time, those who manage to find a great rental property should consider themselves lucky. The last thing a new renter needs is to find themselves in conflict with their landlord. Fortunately, there are a few important steps a new tenant can take to make sure that the landlord and tenant relationship remains a happy one.
Wear and tear
The definition of wear and tear can be very different between a landlord and a tenant. Damage to property that occurs due to one single event is typically the responsibility of the tenant. For example, breaking a window would more than likely be the fault of the tenant, and they would be required to pay for the damages and repairs. However, the normal wear to a couch, for example, that occurs from sitting on it over years would typically not be the responsibility of the tenant. Unfortunately, many landlords use normal wear-and-tear damage as an opportunity to deduct money from a tenant’s security deposit.
Having a clear understanding on what would be considered normal wear and tear versus damage that would affect the security deposit can go a long way in preventing conflict. Every renter should document the condition of the property upon arrival by taking pictures.
The landlord and tenant should document in the lease who will be responsible for what repairs and how quickly those repairs will be completed. A repair that might be very important to the tenant might not be as important to the landlord, and the repair could take longer to complete if the landlord feels no urgency. Creating a reasonable timeline for repairs can prevent gray areas in the lease and hurt feelings between the tenant and the landlord.
General understanding of the lease
Tenants should take time to actually read their lease and make sure they understand both their responsibilities and their restrictions on the property. Many conflicts arise unnecessarily simply because a tenant did not understand a provision of their lease.
For those who have found themselves in a serious dispute with their landlord, it may be beneficial to consult an attorney who may provide guidance and representation. Communication sent by an attorney to the landlord might be taken more seriously and result in a faster and more favorable settlement of the dispute.