Moving into a rental unit has its perks. Unlike homeowners who take on a significant financial responsibility, renters don’t have to worry about things like Property damage and repairs. If you’re fortunate enough, you may even find a rental property in which you’re not responsible for any maintenance or property-related services and only have to pay the rent each month. As beneficial as it can be to become a tenant, it isn’t without its risks. All too often tenants find themselves in the midst of a legal battle with their landlord which could have been avoided.
To ensure that you don’t fall into those same traps, it is necessary that you do your due diligence prior to moving in.
Research Your Landlord and the Property
When applying to live in a rental unit you’re often required to provide references and other identifying information that allows the landlord to get a better understanding of who you are and how likely you are to pay the rent on time. The property owner shouldn’t be the only one doing some digging, however. You too should conduct some research of your own.
Find out more about your landlord and the status of the property before moving in. Is the property in foreclosure? Are their tax liens on it? Does your landlord had a bunch of financial problems? How have they treated tenants in the past? You can check online reviews and/or visit your local county courthouse to check public property records.
Review the Rental Agreement (Completely)
So, you’re excited about moving in and can’t wait to get your keys. As anxious as you might be you should never sign a lease without reviewing it from start to finish. This agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the property owner. If you simply sign, you could later find out that you’ve obligated yourself to a nightmare. Review things like visitor limits, fees, rent increases, pet policies, maintenance and repair requirements, etc. If there are things missing from the lease, be sure to ask your landlord about them prior to signing.
Invest in Renter’s Insurance
If you thought that your landlord’s property insurance would cover any damages to your personal belongings should something go wrong, you should think again. In the event that your home or apartment gets robbed, flooded, or a fire breaks out and your personal belongings were ruined, it will be entirely up to you to replace them. You should compare renters insurance quotes online to see how much it will cost. You can decide which service provider is best after you’ve made the decision to move into the unit.
Do a Thorough Move-in Inspection
Prior to signing the lease, you should demand that your landlord goes with you to the property to do an inspection. You want to make sure that the unit is up to code, safe, and decent for you to live in. As you’re walking through, the landlord will likely have a checklist to make note of the status of the property. As an added layer of protection, it couldn’t hurt for you to take pictures of the house or apartment. This will be instrumental should they try to keep your security deposit due to damages you didn’t cause.
Many would say that renters have it made. They get to live in someone else’s property and only worry about paying the rent each month. Though it can be a lot less stressful than owning a home, keep in mind, there are still risks involved. To protect yourself should you have a dispute with your landlord, damage to the property, or face eviction, do your due diligence by completing all of the above-mentioned steps BEFORE signing on the dotted line or moving in.