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Top 7 things you should know before renting a house or apartment

Posted by sonrise on May 3, 2013
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So you’re a renter or looking for somewhere to rent; you are sharing the experience with over 95 million Americans according to the American Tenants Association. There are many reasons to rent instead of own and there are things you can do to protect yourself before signing a lease.

Here are the top 7 things to know before renting a house or apartment:

If possible, look for property and lease your home in low-season:

Every area is different but, for example, in a college town high-season is the summer when students are creating high demand for housing.
During low season, you will have more inventories to choose from and a greater chance of negotiating a lower price.

Yes! You can negotiate price:

Know your value as a renter including your credit-score and past rental behavior and be prepared to “sell-yourself” to a potential landlord.
Know the neighborhood: do some research on rental prices of similar properties in the area.
Know the complex/neighborhood in which you’d like to rent: is there ample property or are they almost all rented out?
Think beyond monthly rent: are there other perks that could be offered to sweeten the deal like a month to month lease, free storage space, new carpet or premium parking?

Know your lease terms and early termination fees:

The first step is to choose a place with a lease suitable to your situation. For example, if you know you will need to move within the next year, signing a 1 year lease will not work for you.
Be aware of early termination fees for breaking your lease because they could be very expensive.

Know your rights:

Renter’s have rights too!
Every state has different protections for renters so you will need to do some basic research. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, you may have a legal recourse. There are many free law resources online for renters, as well as tenants’ rights organizations that you can contact for help and initial research.

Know the landlord’s reputation:

If possible, talk to other renters to find out if they like the landlord. For example, does he or she provide timely rental repairs, respect privacy, etc.?

Damage to the property:

Many landlords will provide you an opportunity to carefully tour the home and write down any damage you find. This is very important as it is the only way to protect yourself from being charged for this damage when you move out! The best thing is to have all repairs handled before you move in but at the very least a signed agreement from the landlord acknowledging that the damage was there before you moved in is vital.

Know the neighbors and the neighborhood:

Find out everything you can about the demographics, individual neighbors and safety of the neighborhood before signing a lease.
Be realistic about your own needs and compare them to the neighborhood in which you are thinking of renting. For example, a married couple with kids would be ill-suited to living in a neighborhood full of college frat houses.

Once you have signed a lease, be sure to protect your belongings with Renter’s Insurance. Renter’s insurance is a very affordable way to protect your belongings. Do an assessment of your property; even if you are young you likely have some expensive household items like gaming consoles, music players, computer and TVs. Renter’s insurance costs an average of just $16 a month protecting you from fire, theft and vandalism which is a worthy trade for your peace of mind.

Renters deserve a feeling of comfort and safety in their home in the same way a homeowner does. A good rental property can provide these things if you do your research and keep the ideas discussed in this article in mind. Good luck in your house-hunt!

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