Renting can seem pretty simple from the start. You look through rentals, find one you like, pay your rent and bills every month and done, right? Landlords and rental companies LOVE to take advantage of unsuspecting people. They hope you’ll sign a contract unprepared and then you’re screwed when something goes wrong. I saw this first hand when I moved into my first rental my sophomore year of college. Since then, I have had a mess of issues, which most of you saw unfold on my stories this week. Today, I want to share my tips on how to protect yourself and save yourself money and stress with rentals.
1. Check every box before you sign a lease
Everything starts when you are looking for a place to rent. Don’t feel weird asking lots of questions or taking your time and being nosey in a home/apartment. You are going to sign a contract to live in this place for a long time, you want to make sure everything checks out. You should always always always tour a place and see what’s going on first hand. When you go through the place, flush the toilets, turn on the sinks, open all the doors, turn on all the lights, open cabinets, open the fridge, pull down the blinds, do all the things. If you don’t check if these things work to your standards, you may be in for a headache when you first move in (like we are now). If you find an issue, you can bring it up and if the landlord doesn’t say it will be fixed by move in, then move on.
You should also ask lots of questions and write down the answers you get. You can ask how well the house heats/cools. Ask if there are flooding issues. Ask about trash pickup, utilities, and so much more. A good list of things to ask should consist of
-If I find damage to the house when I move in, who is responsible for that and how will it get fixed?
-Who do I contact if I have issues with the place?
-How fast do they normally fix things?
-Is there a cleaning fee when I move out?
-Am i responsible for maintaining the landscaping (i.e bushes, trees, large plants if the place has them)?
-Do I pay for trash?
-What companies are your utilities through?
-Is the place already wired for wifi?
2. Read every inch of the lease
A lease is no joke. When you sign that document, you sign away things you may not expect and there are major consequences of breaking a lease on both sides. For example, my sophomore year of college, my apartment complex decided they wanted to renovate one of their buildings over the summer months. To do this, they told everyone in our building they could either terminate their lease early or they could move into the other building for the summer.
By doing this, they broke the terms of the initial lease, and the rest of the document was subsequently void as well. Instead of just going along with this, this particular complex handled this situation by forcing everyone in the apartment to sign an addendum to the lease stating that we agreed to this or we lost remote key access to our rooms (this is very illegal).
John and I were the only people living there who thought this was wrong and we subsequently ended up suing them and settling for a free month of rent.
The point of this is that the company assumed all the college kids were dumb and would just sign a piece of paper and go about their lives. They took advantage of the hundreds of people who lived in that building just to make a buck.
Leases can have things in them that seem pointless, but you have to read over every line to see what is covered and what is not. My one lease stated that if I died as a result of something going wrong with my apartment complex, that my family could not sue my apartment management…..
If you’re confused about what is covered in the lease, ask someone else to read it over with you, even me! Know what you’re getting into, because you could waste a lot of money on a bad lease agreement.
3. Take photos when you move in
When you move in, before you ever move a box into the place, photograph and videotape every square inch of that place. It may seem excessive, but if something drastic happens, you will be thankful you have evidence that it was not your fault and you will save so much time and money.
4. Be a good renter
If you treat your landlord right, they usually will treat you right back. If you pay your bills and take care of the property, they will usually be understanding when things happen or will work well with you when things need done.
5. Be willing to fight the fight
You have to be willing to know when something is wrong and when you deserve compensation for it. If the place you live in is not up to the lease agreement, unlivable, or has inconvenienced your ability to live in the house, you have a right to get compensated. You and your landlord signed a document agreeing that you would be able to live in that space. If work needs to be done and you have to stay in a hotel or can’t use part of the house and it is inconveniencing you, you should have a right to ask for compensation in a lower rent. You pay to live in a home and when that is not happening, you shouldn’t be paying for it.
If you want to hear more about how to approach this topic with your landlord, watch my Insta for more details on how to handle this *it will be saved as a story highlight*
Renting is just as rough as home ownership. Things get messy and problems pop up, but that’s life. If we all know how to navigate it better, we can make the best of the situation and hopefully have a safe, comfortable place to call home.
Hope this was helpful for you guys!