Renting an apartment is not a major decision for most people. However, it’s one that must be taken seriously if you want to avoid paying a high monthly rent or additional fees.
Whether you have already been a tenant for many years or you are just moving out from your parents’ home, we think you can always benefit from some useful tips on how to make the most from your current situation and avoid traps.
Making a mistake when renting an apartment or a home will probably not have a long-term negative impact on your life, but why not make the best decisions and still have enough pocket money?
Here are the 5 most common mistakes that renters make and how you can avoid them.
Not reading the rental contract before signing
Are you very happy about getting your first apartment?
We understand your enthusiasm, but don’t get too carried away and sign without understanding each clause in the rental contract. Remember you’ll need to comply with those requirements for a given period of time, even if you change your mind afterwards!
There are multiple aspects you need to consider, even if they don’t mean much to you at this moment (late fees, renewal terms, subletting rules, property rules, and utility agreements, just to start with). Pay attention to leases with management companies – it’s common for these property owners to have an arbitration agreement cause. This means all lawsuits will be settled in binding arbitration instead of court; would you agree to that term?
Aside from visiting the property before moving in, make sure you inspect it thoroughly and not close your eyes to that leaking faucet and just hope the landlord will fix it.
Even if you like the apartment to a great extent, check all those aspects that could frustrate you once you move in, such as noisy neighbors or a long commute. A 10-minute showing may not reveal all those problems, so if you are considering a certain apartment or building, come back again and talk to other residents before making a decision. Experts recommend making a morning commute test before signing the lease, just to make sure you get to work in a reasonable amount of time.
Not taking all expenses into consideration
“I can afford the rent, so why not move in?” many renters say when they decide for an apartment. The tendency to underestimate costs may throw you into financial austerity for many months after making the wrong decision. Here are some expenses you may not have considered before: moving your belongings (packing supplies and transport), higher utility bills, extra fees, rental insurance, commute costs, and so on.
Not documenting damage before moving in
A hole in the bathroom wall? Sure, you can live with it, but it would be unfair to support repair costs. Here is an important measure that most people don’t take: checking damages before moving in. Don’t keep your camera just for holiday photos and take pictures of any issue you can find in your new apartment, such as cracks in the kitchen tiles or carpet stains. You can avoid future inconveniences by writing all damages down and asking the landlord to sign the paper. The landlord may simply not have any idea about these problems and without any evidence at hand you cannot prove your innocence.
Not knowing your legal rights
The rental market is a hot one, that’s for sure, and landlords don’t lack potential renters that want to move in as soon as possible. If few apartments are available in your area, bad landlords can think they can afford not improving unsafe conditions, neglecting repair demands, not shoveling the snow, or increasing rent. As a tenant, you can’t be ignorant of the law; check tenant rights in your state and always be aware of the clauses in your rental contract. Each time you suspect the landlord is not fulfilling their obligations you can come up with legal arguments and have the problem solved.
Your turn now:
Have you ever been through an unpleasant situation as a renter and what did you learn from it? Share your experience with our readers!