Prior to becoming a work from home mom, I used to work as a property manager for residential communities. Although the job was a bit stressful, I truly enjoyed the residents I met and the working relationships I formed. One of the things that surprised me was how little the tenants knew about their rights or even common renter information. So today I’m going to share some important tips that every renter should know.
5 Tips To Help Renters Save Money (and Headaches!)
1. Ask questions.
I’m not talking about the typical questions like bedroom size and square footage. I’m referring to important things such as pet policy, late fees and property rules. I know it’s exciting when you find out you’re approved and busy planning the move, but you need to be informed. Take notes and don’t be afraid to get all your questions answered. Most landlords are not going to volunteer the negative aspects of the property so is up to you to find out before you agree to move in.
2. Read and re-read the lease.
I know that it’s an extremely long document and most of the time it doesn’t make sense. As a property manager I made it a point to go over the lease in detail with new tenants. However, I know that not all landlords/property managers are created equal. Make sure you pay close attention to late fee charges, the utilities you’re responsible for, and how the lease can be terminated. If you don’t agree with the terms don’t just simply make a verbal agreement, ask the landlord to change it on the lease before you sign it. I’ve seen many tenants get burned for hundreds of dollars because they failed to read the fine print on their lease.
3. Negotiate when possible.
Depending on the property, you could potentially negotiate your rental terms. Are you planning on living at the property for longer than a year? Offer to sign a longer lease in exchange for a rent discount. Are you handy or could offer landscaping services? I had tenants that would take care of the common areas for a monthly rent discount. Can you pay a few months worth of rent in advance? Again, ask if you can get your rent discounted if you do so.
4. Document everything!
When you first move into the property, do a thorough move-in inspection. Point out any issues you see and make note of it on a move-in inspection form (ask the landlord to provide one). Make sure that you and the landlord sign the document and keep a copy for yourself. This document will cover you in case you are blamed for any damages that were made prior to your move. Also, if you plan on moving out of the property don’t just assume that a verbal notice is sufficient. Hand in a written notice and keep a copy for yourself. Even better, ask the landlord to give you a letter of receipt acknowledging they received your notice.
5. Purchase renter’s insurance.
This is the first thing you should do when renting a new place and it doesn’t cost much at all. I remember when one of my former residents had her place broken into while on vacation. She was able to find out who did it through our camera system, but by then it was too late to get the stolen items back. She was able to recoup some of her loss by going through her renter’s insurance. Just like car insurance, renter’s insurance is not something you should be without. It could save you lots of headaches and money.
Did I miss anything? What would you add to this list? Please comment and share with others below!