Renting a home or apartment is exciting and provides you with a sense of freedom and independence without requiring the daunting responsibilities of investing in your own property. Before signing a rental agreement, however, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid any potential issue from arising or discovering you are in a problematic living arrangement.
The Upfront Costs May be Higher Than You Expect
When moving into a rental, you are required to pay upfront costs which include a security deposit. Security deposits typically range from $100 to more than $500 depending on your city and the type of home or apartment you are interested in.
Additionally, it is important to save before you begin your rental search as it is not likely to find a property that only requires your first month’s rent upon moving in. Most landlords and property owners require the first and last month’s rent along with your security deposit to complete the process.
As a Tenant, You Have Serious Responsibilities
Not all landlords operate equally, which is why it is imperative to thoroughly read and review rental agreements before signing. While some property owners cover the expenses of updates, repairs, and replacements, others may require tenants to cover a fraction of the cost or the entire bill (depending on the cause).
Your Rent May Increase Over Time
In populated areas, rent is more likely to increase over time. Not all rental properties are subjected to a rent increase, which is why it is important to ask questions and inquire about the possibility with landlords who are currently renting before moving in. Rent increases often occur annually and depend on the surrounding economy and national inflation.
If you are thinking of renting a home or apartment that is income-based, you may also be required to show proof of your annual income to reconfigure and reassess what you owe each month to remain as a tenant.
You Will Have Decor and Remodeling Restrictions
Always read the entirety of a rental agreement before signing it and becoming an official tenant. If you enjoy adding decor to your walls or have an interest in painting your apartment or home, speak up to the property manager and ask questions to verify your ability to do so without repercussions.
While most rental property managers are lenient on allowing decorative objects such as wall hangings, rental companies often have harsher rules and regulations to follow.
In some cases, adding decorations to your walls or painting them can ultimately lead to you losing the ability to receive your deposit back once you decide to move out. While you can’t personalize the walls and floors in a rental, you will likely be able to leverage custom drapery and hang your own wall art.
Note: If a landlord gives you verbal permission to decorate or make changes inside of the rental property, ask for it in written form to protect yourself legally and financially before agreeing to sign your lease.
You Might Not be Able to Live With Pets
Pets are like family. They provide unconditional love and often become just as important as other members of households. If you have a pet, be sure to clarify that pets are allowed in the rental property you are interested in. Many apartments or rental homes allow pets but require an additional deposit to cover the potential cost of carpet cleaning and flooring replacement if necessary.
Read your rental agreement to determine whether or not there is a weight or size restriction in place before moving with pets that are larger breeds. It is also essential to clarify that multiple pets are allowed if you currently own more than one fuzzy friend.
High-Quality Flooring is Important
Inspect the apartment or rental home you desire before moving in to ensure it is up to code and quality standards you prefer. Always inspect the flooring throughout any rental you are thinking of moving into, especially when there is dated tile or hardwood floor throughout. Flexible floors, peeling linoleum, and dips in the flooring are all signs that there is work to be done.
A properly managed rental property will provide a safe and healthy living environment, which requires landlords to replace and repair flooring throughout. If flooring is undesirable in the rental you want to obtain, it is likely that the landlord is less enthusiastic about fixing and repairing other issues you encounter in the future.
You Need to Understand How Energy Efficiency Varies
Saving money on electricity is one way to cut back on bills while saving more for other expenses you want or need. Even if you plan to utilize energy-efficient bulbs, outlets, and electronics, it is necessary to research the average local neighborhood energy costs each month.
If you are moving into an apartment building, inquire about the average cost among residents to get a better idea of what you are expected to pay monthly. A poorly insulated rental home or apartment can cause your monthly bill to skyrocket, even if you are overly-cautious about the energy you use when you are at home.
You Must Inform Yourself About Grace Periods and Late Fees
Review all sections of your rental agreement along with sections regarding grace periods and late payment violation fees. Landlords may provide tenants with a grace period, or a set number of days after your rent’s original due date to pay the amount in full without penalty (although this is not legally required).
In some cases, there are no grace periods and a late fee may occur immediately. Landlords may charge late fees daily or by the week for a set amount of time until an eviction notice is set in motion. Daily late fees may range from $5 to $25 daily while weekly fees often range from $50 to more than $100, depending on your original monthly rent cost.
If there is no information regarding late fees or grace periods in the original leasing agreement you receive, ask the property manager or landlord directly about your financial responsibilities if you are unable to pay your rent on time.
Searching for the perfect rental home or apartment does not have to feel strenuous and difficult. Preparing ahead of time by getting your finances in order and thoroughly reviewing any rental agreements you are presented with help to prevent financial surprises or an unwanted outcome.
Bruce MacDonald leads the team at MacDonald Hardwoods, a hardwood flooring store in Denver, Colorado. Since 1986, they have serviced homeowners and landlords with hardwood flooring installations, cleaning, and conducted educational classes to help customers care for their floors. Let Bruce and his team help you choose the right hardwood floors for your home.