Renting an apartment can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you’re extremely excited to finally have a space to call your own. A place where you can decide what decorations go on the walls – a place where you can cook meals of your choosing – a place to invite anyone and everyone to enjoy and have a good time. On the other hand, renting an apartment can turn sour quickly, particularly if you have a landlord that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
Fortunately for you, websites like Whose Your Landlord exist! We’ve combined some of the most common problems renters experience with their landlords and put them together in this fool-proof guide so that you can avoid being scammed.
Negotiating is allowed
It’s not common, but there are ways you can get more bang for your buck in terms of what you pay for rent. While you may not be able to lower the physical dollar amount of your rent each month, you can ask for other perks to be incorporated into the cost of your rent. For example, if you have pets and your landlord charges a fee for them, you can negotiate that fee included in your lease to be waived. A decent landlord will meet you in the middle when it comes to negotiating. After all, they want you to lease their property so that they can make money.
Get to know the tenants
Before you rent, it’s a good idea to talk to some of the people living in the building. Those who have spent the most time in the area will have the best advice to offer and be able to answer questions regarding how responsive the landlord is to requests. Conversely, if you start having conversations with people and notice they haven’t been in the building long and are planning to leave soon, that should be a tell-tale sign that somethings not right. When you’re talking to current tenants, keep an open mind and try to speak with as many people as possible in order to get a more accurate read on the building and the landlord.
Once you’ve made a decision to move in and co-exist with a landlord, it’s important to document things as they happen – good or bad. If there’s an issue, you’ll want photos and other supporting documents in your possession that show exactly what happened. It’s important to collect evidence, even if your landlord agrees to fix the problem right away. In the future, they could come back at you and demand payment for the repair, regardless of whether or not they were responsible. Copies of your lease, renter’s agreement, and documentation of the repairs are good to have in the event that this problem occurs.
Understand the way payments are structured
Your landlord should expect your rent to be sent to them at a specific time each and every month. Your lease should outline this information. If you find that your landlord is asking for money at random times throughout the month, something is probably up. Similarly, the fees and up-front costs of the apartment should align with others in the area. If you notice that the up-front costs are extremely high, this should be a sign that your landlord probably isn’t credible and only out to make money off of your security deposit.
Conduct your own due diligence
Sites like Whose Your Landlord exist for you! You’re able to see what other renters have to say about their landlords – but we’ve already covered that. On top of getting to know the landlord, the building, and the current tenants, it’s important to get to know the area you’ll be living in. What will your commute be like? Where will you park? How far are the grocery stores and pharmacies? If you have children, where will they be able to play? Getting to know the neighborhood is just as important as seeing the space and meeting the people you’ll be living with.
Know (and understand) your rights
Every renter has rights. Your lease is a contract, and it’s important to understand each and every element of that contract. If you’re not sure what your lease means, do some research, consult a friend or family member, or seek legal counsel. Never sign anything unless you’re absolutely sure of the terms and you agree wholeheartedly with them.
Renting an apartment doesn’t have to be a difficult or scary process. Stay tuned to the Whose Your Landlord blog for all of the best advice on renting. Have a question? Ask away in the comments!