Home ownership is not for everyone. There are some real conveniences to renting property, such as having somebody else be responsible for the maintenance work, snow shoveling, etc.. Renting an apartment also permits a person to live closer to the downtown area, enjoying all the excitement of urban nightlife. Renters can sometimes drop into into pitalls due to lack of planning. It is because they didn’t do their homework that some renters find themselves in very awkward financial positions. There are a few potholes in the road that need to be avoided.
Checking out the Territory.
Think about all the little chores included in performing due diligence. You truly don’t want to rush into a lease agreement with anybody. The first thing you should do is determine exactly what it is you need, from a budget perspective to live comfortably. That can include appliances, proximity to where you work, and whether or not the rental is located near grocery stores or other important places. This can be a bit difficult with some listings, since not every website is updated on a regular basis. Perhaps the best thing to do is a bit of cross reference work. You can check the listing sites to see what rentals are available, and then take a drive over to take a look at the neighborhood. Cruising the area is an excellent idea because you want to know where you might be living. The listing may show a very cheap monthly rent, but the property may be in an urban war zone. While you’re at it, take a look at some of the consumer review boards like Yelp. Take the apartment complex you have sourced on a website, and then review it against what other people have said about the management and the apartments. Comments on the consumer websites are usually very reliable. They can tell you whether or not you should continue exploring that rental.
Read It Before You Sign It.
A lease is a legal document. Take a close look at everything that is in it, and do not hesitate to ask questions. That piece of paper may contain certain obligations, which may include some maintenance work. Be sure that you know exactly what the landlord or the apartment manager is expecting. If any clause seems to be questionable or hard to understand, and the landlord doesn’t give you a good answer, it may be worth having an attorney take a look. (Incidentally, some employers have group legal plan benefits for employees. If you are a plan member, you may be able to have an attorney review the lease free of charge or at a much reduced rate).
That Money Thing.
The monthly rent itself is the biggest concern but not necessarily the only one. You should know how much the down payments and security deposits are going to be, and what may cause you to lose these monies should you leave the apartment. You might also have to pay the first month’s rent upfront as well (this is separate from the down payment). There may be a number of application or processing fees involved. Unfortunately, some landlords try to bleed a few extra dollars out of an honest renter with such additional costs. You have every right to ask what each and every fee is for. If the explanation is unacceptable, by all means, move along. There are enough rental possibilities on the market and you can look elsewhere.
It also is perfectly legitimate to request a financial breakdown of what it is you are paying for. It might be recreation fees for the apartment complex pool, or for security programs. This information is going to be important to know. You may have already budgeted for the rent but the incidentals may be something you didn’t allow for. You should ask before you sign any lease.
Investigating the Landlord/Property Management
This goes little bit deeper than checking consumer boards. Because of the amount of rental fraud that has happened in the recent years, you should check to be sure that the landlord is really the owner of the property. That same holds true for the management of apartment complexes. It is terrible to think about but there have been cases where somebody claims to be the landlord, and then takes the down payment and the application fees. You can imagine the shock of an individual who moved into rental property to discover that they have not been dealing with the real owner at all. These poor victims have lost a fair amount of money in the process. A search of the public records can determine whether or not the property is owned by the person claiming to be the landlord.
This may seem odd, but while you are reviewing the public records take a look at the solvency of the landlord. This will help avoid embarrassing situation later on. If it looks to be that the landlord is delinquent in the mortgage payments or the property management is facing bankruptcy, it could mean that you may be required to deal with a new owner before your original lease has expired.
You could be moving to a new area perhaps for a change of scenery or because your job requires it. That can make it difficult to find rental property. Your options include dealing with a real estate company that has offices in the metropolitan area where you will be moving. You can provide them with the specifications and they can produce the results for you. The online listings can also help you if you want to do an individual search. Be sure that you perform all of your due diligence mentioned above regarding the landlord or apartment management. If your company has a relocation policy be sure to check with human resources see what can be done for you. It is entirely possible that the relocation policy includes assistance in finding a rental space.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask when was the last time the rental property was inspected for mold, cockroaches, or other vermin. It should be done immediately after the last renter has left. Never pay anything in cash because you want to have a paper trail to verify what you have paid the landlord. Create a record, in the form of a move in checklist, and do a thorough job of completing it. The return of your deposits may depend on how thorough a record you have of the existing condition and you should not have to pay for damage done by the last occupant. Taking pictures of the rooms before you move in is a good way to document the prior condition.
A renter has to be careful in looking for a home. So many of the problems a renter faces can easily be handled just by a little prior planning and due diligence. Rental property does have some benefits for the right person. Just be sure that you have done all the right things to protect yourself from a bad deal.