The landlord-tenant relationship should be non-adversarial and an arrangement that benefits both parties. It’s for this reason that property management companies like Keyrenter Silicon Valley work diligently to screen tenants and nurture that relationship. Not every landlord and property management firm take the same approach that Keyrenter Silicon Valley does, which is why we recommend 7 important steps that should be taken to protect tenants rights.

1. Read the Lease and Know Local Landlord-Tenant Law

Landlord-tenant law establishes the rights for both parties and is freely available online. Reading through it can give you a sense of your rights as a tenant as well as your obligation to the landlord. Read the lease as well. Leases aren’t standardized, and a landlord or property management company may assert a right that you don’t agree with or at least would be better off knowing about in advance.

2. Take Photos on Move-In Day

Ideally, you should perform a walk-through inspection alongside the landlord or representative of the property management company. Use your smartphone to take general photos of every room. In addition, take particular photos of any damage or blemishes that you could be held accountable for later. If the damage is significant, refuse to move in, or receive a written promise that the issues will be corrected in a timely manner.

3. Get Tenant Insurance

Not having renter insurance is one of the most common mistakes tenants make. The landlord has insurance as well, and while that insurance does extend to you to a point, it doesn’t cover your belongings. Without renter insurance, damage from a flood would simply be a loss. Likewise, if a storm makes an apartment unlivable, your insurance could cover immediate accommodations elsewhere.

4. Make a Payments in a Trackable Manner

A company like Keyrenter Silicon Valley provides tenants a receipt after every payment of rent or a security deposit. You should demand that of your landlord, but don’t rely on that receipt as evidence. Instead, make your payment through a trackable method, such as a check or credit card. Never pay by cash, which can make it difficult to prove payment should you ever need to.

5. Keep Records

Make a file and store all documentation in it starting with your preliminary discussions with the landlord. Include photos, receipts, copies of payment information and so forth. Also, include any notices from the landlord regardless of how inconsequential they may seem at the time.

6. Hold Your Landlord Accountable

Being a good tenant is an important part of the equation. You probably shouldn’t bother the landlord for minor items that you can easily handle yourself, but you shouldn’t avoid holding the property owner or manager accountable either. Be mindful that being lax in this area could set a precedent that you regret later on. Be fair with your landlord, but demand what you pay for.

7. Take Photos on Move-Out Day

After you’ve moved your belongings out of the residence, you should clean it thoroughly and return it to the state it was in on move-in day. Then perform a walk-through inspection, and just like on move-in day, take photos of every room. You can then use those for comparison later if the need arises.