It is important to know some of your rights as a tenant. It is always best to have a written lease so all the terms are understood by both parties. Always try to read and understand every aspect of the lease because later misunderstandings can be costly. Rent is usually paid one month in advance, and a security deposit and last month rent are usually required to move in. Rents are not generally index-linked, except if it is mentioned in the lease contract. For more information on renters rights in San Francisco: www.sftu.org/.
Once you have found some possibilities, it is time to arrange an appointment to see the apartment. Call as soon as possible because good apartments go fast. If you reach an answering machine, leave a clear, concise message; say that you are calling about the apartment and how you found out about it. Give your name and telephone number, and ask the person to call you back at his/her earliest convenience to schedule an appointment. You may follow up with another call in 24 hours if you do not get a call back, because apartment renters can be very busy and won't return your call.
It is important to make a good impression when looking at apartments. Arrive on time, dress neatly, and be on your best behavior. If you are interested, let the person showing you the apartment know by asking relevant questions.
1) How long is the lease?
Be careful, rents are high in San Francisco.
If your budget is low, you can share a flat with room-mates, a current formula in the USA and not only amongst students (see our article about Flatsharing)
If you find a flat by a agency, it will take a 15% commission on your annual rent to the householder in the case of a location.
The lease contract is not compulsory but recommended. It generally lasts one or two years. In the absence of contract, the tenant can be evicted at anytime. It the tenant wants to leave the house before the end of the contract, he is responsible for the rent until the end of the contract, unless another tenant is found.
The inventory of fixtures is not compulsory but recommended to avoid any litigation. It is written by two parts. The law imposes the repainting and the washing of the houses at the settling. Kitchens are generally furnished (fridge, electric cooker, dish washing machines, deep freeze …) and most of the modern building have common washing and drying machines.
The rent must be paid in advance (one month) and a caution of the equivalent of two or three months is required. The water charges are generally included in the rent. The land and local taxes are paid by the householder. Rents are not generally index-linked, except if it is mentioned in the lease contract.
The most used heating means are gas, electricity and fuel. Because of the heat during the summer, air conditioning is necessary. Be careful: electricity is 110 volts ( 220 for some devices ), 60 periods, monophasis current, with two-pin plug.