Produced by the State of CA, the following document is an excellent source for understanding the "ends and outs" of renting from both the Landlord and Renter positions.
Additionally, given the current state of the market, you might also want to be aware of your options should your Landlord default on their loan payments and enter into foreclosure. Please review the following to be aware of tenant protection laws regarding such a situation:
CA's "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" - need to know info!
Most Landlords will have an application which will include your employment, income, references and permission to obtain a credit report. You'll likely need to pay the first monthâ€™s rent and a damage deposit up front and have the utilities put in your name. Does this help?