Project Sentinel

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What is Project Sentinel?
Project Sentinel, a non-profit agency, provides information and dispute resolution services to tenants, landlords, and roommates.

Project Sentinel answers questions and helps to resolve disputes involving deposits, rent increases, nonpayment of rent, and other rental housing issues.

What happens when I call Project Sentinel?
A housing counselor works with you to help resolve your situation, answer your questions, provide you with information, and discuss possible solutions.

Comprehensive services include:

  • Information & Counseling, description of rights and responsibilities for all parties; 
  • Resource Referrals; 
  • Conciliation & Mediation.

What is Conciliation?
In conciliation, a housing counselor communicates with each of the parties individually, usually over the telephone, to help them resolve their differences.

What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which an impartial professional holds a confidential meeting with the parties to give them the opportunity to resolve their issues in a face-to-face process.

Why Mediate?
Because mediation is:

  • Effective: Most cases that enter mediation are resolved. 
  • Neutral: Mediators are impartial, and they do not impose decisions on the parties. 
  • Confidential: All communication in the mediation is confidential and cannot be used against a party in court. 
  • Free and Convenient: All services are free to all parties. Mediations are arranged to fit the schedules of the parties, and are faster and less stressful than other options such as court.

Guidelines for Tenants and Landlords:
Tenants should:

  • Read the rental agreement or lease carefully, and comply with its terms; 
  • Pay rent on time; 
  • Maintain the property in good condition, and notify the landlord property if repairs are needed. 
  • Safeguard against damage to the property caused by themselves or their guests.

Landlords Should: 

  • Comply with the terms of the rental agreement or lease; 
  • Make repairs promptly; 
  • Give proper written notice for changes in rent or rental terms, or when entering onto the property; 
  • Return security deposits, with an explanation for any deductions, within 21 days after the tenant vacates.

Everyone Should:

  • Record all agreements in writing, and keep copies in a safe place;
  • Jointly complete a checklist of the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Additional Resources:
Rent Watch, a column for tenants and landlords written by Project Sentinel, appears biweekly in the Real Estate section of the San Jose Mercury News. More information on rental issues can be obtained from these books:

Tenants’ Rights, Moskovitz & Warner, Nolo Press
Landlord’s Law Book, Brown & Warner, Nolo Press
Neighbor Law, Cora Jordan, Nolo Press

  • If you think you have been discriminated against unlawfully, call Project Sentinel’s fair housing service at 408-287-4663. 
  • Who is the property owner? To find out, call the Santa Clara County Assessor’s office at 408-299-3227. 
  • For information about housing code violations, call the City of Santa Clara Housing Inspector at 408-615-2440.

Project Sentinel is funded by the City of Santa Clara to provide a full range of dispute resolution services for tenants, landlords, and roommates. Call (408) 720-9888 for assistance. All of Project Sentinel’s services are free, confidential and neutral.

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