Just a quick note on charging more than two months rent in "deposits" - This is from the la times.
"Move-in fees and deposits go by several names and all have a part to play. However, no matter what term is used by the landlord, such as "cleaning deposit," "key deposit," "pet deposit" or even "last month's rent," the law considers all money taken as the same thing--security deposit. While there is no minimum deposit amount set by law, California state law defines maximum security deposit and couches the specifics based on furnishings."
"Unfurnished rentals have a set limit that cannot exceed two months' worth of rent. For example, if your rent is $1,000 a month, the maximum security deposit you can be asked to pay for an unfurnished place is $2,000. At move-in, your cost could be $3,000 total (deposit plus rent for the first month)."
"What if your landlord refuses to rent to you and your beloved dog unless you pay a separate "pet deposit"? Can you sign a pet deposit agreement on the side and pay a little extra deposit for the varmint? Yes and no."
"Yes, you can sign whatever you find palatable as a consenting adult, but not if your legal rights are violated or breached in any way. No, you can't sign away a legal right in the state of California. The pet deposit still has to be within the legal security deposit limit, even if both landlord and tenant agree to a higher amount."... more
Hi - did you go through an agent to help you find the home to rent, or have you been talking to the owners directly? If you need assistance in verifying that you are getting into a legitimate transaction, please feel free to contact me.... more