April '23 to '24 Comparisons for Santa Cruz, Monterey & the Bay Area (click on title)

Quick guide for tenants renting a home.

If you're looking for a rental home, here are a few tips for preventing problems and protecting yourself from fraudsters.

ASK

  • 1. Get the full name and contact information of the person or company whose services you use.
  • 2. If you buy a list of rentals from a company, ask to see the company's Department of Real Estate license.
  • 3. Make sure the company that sold you the list of rentals offers refunds.
  • 4. Check that the company had the homeowner's consent to place the home on its list and that the information on the list is factual and current.
  • 5. If you rent a home through a property manager, ask to see the manager's Department of Real Estate license. (Note: Property managers do not need a license to manage properties they own or to be resident managers.)
  • 6. Ask the property manager for the homeowner's full name and contact information.
  • 7. Get a receipt for any payments you make, including fees, security deposits, and rent payments.

    READ

  • 1. Read all rental documents before you sign them and get copies.
  • 2. Make sure you understand how and when rent must be paid, how repairs will be made, and what happens when you move out.
  • 3. Review all of the disclosures that are provided to you about the home.
  • 4. Study California Tenants: A Guide to residential Tenants' and Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities, a Department of Consumer Affairs publication available at www.dca.ca.gov.
  • 5. If the home is in a common interest development, read the rules and regulations of the homeowners association.

    RESEARCH

  • 1. Call the Department of Real Estate at 877-373-4542 or go to www.dre.ca.gov to check the license. Make sure the license status is "Licensed" and that an agent with a salesperson license works for a broker. Look into any prior disciplinary action on the license.
  • 2. Check the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and other sources for reviews and complaints.
  • 3. When you find a home you like, verify who owns the home by contacting a licensed real estate agent, the county recorder's office or a title company.
  • 4. Research the landlord by searching the internet and local court records for reviews and any lawsuits.
  • 5. Check out the property by looking at county records to make sure the home is not in foreclosure.

    BE AWARE

  • 1. Scammers may try to rent you a home that is not available or that is in foreclosure.
  • 2. A below-market rent amount is usually a red flag that the home is not truly available for rent.
  • 3. Be wary of individuals who won't meet with you in person.
  • 4. Be on the alert if the property manager or landlord will not let you tour the property.
  • 5. Do not pay anything in cash or by wire transfer.
  • 6. Consider that you may be able to file a claim with the Department of Real Estate against an agent who defrauds you if the agent is licensed by Department of Real Estate.
  • 7. Most importantly, trust your instincts and common sense. If you have a feeling that something isn't right, report it.