Understanding the Golden Rule of Renting...Mutual Respect

Do you think local rents are high?  Well you are partially right, they are, but they are high in other metropolitan areas across the nation as well.  Why is this happening?  One Reason is that the Bay Area has seen some of the most dramatic job growth in our history.  Bay Area rents have risen about 15% over the last year.  The job boom continues in the Bay Area, particularly in the high tech fields. Techies are migrating here from all over the nation, and the world.  

It is a difficult time to be looking for an apartment, duplex, or house to rent. You drive your favorite neighborhoods looking for “For Rent” signs, searching for just the right place to call home.  You have looked on the internet and scanned the news papers for rentals on a daily basis.  After finding the right place you feel that you are prepared to sign a rental or lease agreement.  Have you taken the time to review landlord/tenant laws and perhaps a rental or lease agreement?  It would be advantageous for you to understand your rights and obligations under the agreement you are about to enter into.  Preparing yourself in advance can help prevent some of the stress associated with finding a new place to live. 

The best advice for both the tenant and the landlord is to enter into the contract with mutual respect for each other, and for the property.  Each side should be considerate of the other’s situation and act accordingly, basically do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We have heard of outrageous landlord conduct that has included discrimination, invasion of privacy, refusing to fix dangerous conditions, or failing to return security deposits when a vacated unit has been left clean and undamaged. Conversely, rental property owners all have at least one nightmarish story of tenants with bad behavior ranging from late payments and property damage, to breaking the law and having police involvement.

As a tenant, you should understand that the property owner has a large investment in the property and that he is providing an opportunity for you to keep a roof over your head.  As a tenant, you should have the right to your privacy.  You should be able to depend on the owner to repair those things that can occasionally go wrong, and the landlord should always call to make an appointment before entering your home.  When you are ready to vacate you should return the property to the owner in good condition.

In the long run, the renter is best served if they try to establish a positive relationship with the property owner from the very beginning.  If the property owner has delivered a well maintained property, and makes all necessary repairs, the owner has the right to expect that the tenant will pay the rent on time, get along with neighbors, and keep the rental property well maintained inside and out. 

We have found over the years that the vast majority of landlord/tenant problems can be solved if both parties are honest with each other from the beginning.  We don’t mean to over simplify the problems that can develop, but if each party takes responsibility for their own actions, chances are that good landlord/tenant relationships will develop and be of advantage to both.


This article was published in the San Francisco Examiner.

Articles are written by Eric Ruxton and Larry Aikins, owners of Terrace Realty, Inc. and Terrace Associates, Inc. in Redwood City. Terrace has been in business more than 55 years and in addition to being an independent Brokerage Company, also owns and operates rental properties.