There are many choices that are less than optimal made by renters in the process of finding a place to live. And there are also lots of other important items that a renter needs to consider before, during, and at the end of their tenancy. Some are minor issues and some are really important to think through. Let's discuss some mistakes that renters make and how to avoid them:
Before Move In
- Not determining upfront where you really desire to live — and what you can afford. Do you want to live In a noisy city area, in suburbia, or out in the country? You should really rent a place for multiple years so you can avoid the expense of moving every year. So think through the optimal scenario for yourself beforehand and do lots of research.
- Not spending enough time searching to see what the market has to offer in available places and their asking rents.
- Not adequately interviewing the landlord on private homes or condominiums for rent is a mistake many people make. This is tougher because you don’t really know what to ask many times. But usually if they are prompt and attentive that is a good sign, if they are late to show you the place, don’t seem that interested, etc. Be careful because they might be the same way once you move in when issues occur – like broken appliances, plumbing, etc.
- Not renting a place you can comfortably afford. Renting a place that drains too much of your income is not a good idea. Try to live within your means and save your extra income to start building a rainy day or retirement fund.
- Not checking utility costs. You should always try to get a feel for how much utilities are by asking the landlord. You do not want to think they will be reasonable or that the landlord pays for some of them just to find out that isn’t the case and they are very expensive.
- Not treating the landlord with respect. This is important, when you give respect, you get respect. If there are issues with your tenancy, try to handle them professionally, and hopefully the landlord will do the sam
- Not having renters' insurance. This is important too as you learn from reading the RentersInsurance.com site. Renters' insurance is inexpensive and can help mitigate disruptions to your life and livelihood in the event of a loss. If your unit is burglarized, it will pay for your lost items. If there is a flood, it will pay for your damaged items. If your dog bites someone and you get sued, it will pay to defend you and pay any settlement or judgment up to your policy limits.
- Not adequately reviewing your lease before you sign it. This is just a huge mistake, and many people fail to do it. Instead, they just quickly review the lease and sign it. You should schedule a time with the landlord and take at least 30 minutes to review the terms with them and make sure you are comfortable with the agreement.
- Not adequately screening your co-tenants. If you are going to move in with people you do not know that well, or let someone new move in if one of your existing co-tenants is moving out, make sure you know that person well. Try to ensure that they have a job and can pay the rent, will not be a nuisance to you or others, and that you will be a good fit to be a roommate with them.
- Not taking care of the property. You really should take care of properties you live in. Your landlord will be much happier with you, you can possibly win some additional perks if you ask for them, and you will probably get more of your deposit back when you leave. Show the landlord why they would want to keep you as their tenant! And it is good practice for later in life when you own a home and repair expenses have to be paid by you!
- Not keeping a good line of communication with landlord and helping mitigate damages if you need to break lease. Work hard to mitigate losses, in concert with the landlord, if something happens.
- Not paying rent on time and paying late fees. This can really add up. Some tenants pay their rent a few days late every month, and the typical late fees range between $25 and $75. Avoid that, if your paycheck comes on the 5th, discuss this with the landlord before you move in so you can have a few extra days grace period before late fees kick in! That is several hundred dollars per year you could use to save or pay off debt.
- Not reporting maintenance issues to the landlord. This is a big no-no. Most problems, such as water spots, toilets running, or electric issues, are easy to fix when they start. It’s when they are not attended to that prices start to go up. So let the landlord know so they can repair the issues as soon as possible.
At Move Out Time
- Being a good tenant along the way will also help you when you decide to move or buy a home because you will get a good recommendation from your existing landlord.
- Not having a pre-move out inspection. You should get your place cleaned a week before you are moving out and pre-schedule an inspection. The landlord can tell you what else he or she believes should be fixed, repaired, etc. so that you get the highest amount of your deposit back.
- Not cleaning adequately. Clean the place, or better yet, have a professional service come clean it. It will make your life easier and again help get the most deposit back.
- Not paying all your final utility and other bills. Don’t let your credit report be damaged by failing to get all those final bills paid!
As you can see there are lots of things you can do to better position yourself before, during, and even really after your lease. It’s good practice for life and it is likely to help you get the best places at the best prices as you rent forward in life.