Renting a house is a good solution for those who want to live in a full home but rather rent than own the property. However, renting comes with its share of pitfalls for inexperienced tenants. What are some of the biggest mistakes made by home renters? Here are things not to do when renting a home.
Not reading/understanding the lease
Whether you are renting an apartment or a home, there is always a lease
. The lease is a legally binding contract that explains all the details and expectations of the landlord and the tenant. If you don’t read it, you will have no idea what the rules are.
If the lease seems too long or confusing, you could either hire an attorney to read it over, or ask a friend or family member with more renting experience to give it a look.
Why is the lease so important? It can contain specifics about the following things:
- What you’re expected to pay monthly
- The term, or duration, of the lease
- Are utilities included? Which ones?
- Who is responsible for what repairs and maintenance?
- Restrictions on subletting
- Restrictions on guests
- Restrictions on pets
- The landlord’s responsibilities to you
- Any other special rules made by the landlord
- What happens if rules are violated
If you ignore these details you could be signing away your rights. If you like having guests or have a pet, you really should know if they’re allowed by the landlord in the lease you signed. Signing it without reading it is a good way to get yourself in trouble and possibly kicked out of the home.
Not doing anything when your landlord breaks the law
Are you familiar with the local laws that protect tenants’ rights? Do you know that the lease is a legally binding contract? The landlord is legally required uphold his responsibilities illustrated in the lease. If you notice your landlord isn't keeping his promises or participating in underhanded business tactics, you should not just sit back and let it happen.
Be willing to report your landlord’s illegal actions to the authorities. Local government agencies should be able to provide you with assistance in rectifying the situation.
Allowing illegal activities to go on unchecked is not fair to you or anyone else whom the landlord is negatively affecting. If the landlord is raising your rent illegally or ignoring the terms of your lease, he is likely doing it to most of his tenants and should face authorities.
Forgetting to include your roommates in important tenancy meetings
If you are renting a home, it is likely that you are not going to be living there alone. Every adult who is living in the home--roommates and family--should be present and aware when the lease is negotiated. This means that you shouldn’t split up and look at different places at the same time. Even if you think that strategy saves you time, you will need everyone present to go ahead with the rental agreement--so you are actually wasting time.
If the other people living with you are adults and paying rent, they should know everything about the lease. Having them present during the negotiation will let them voice any personal concerns--which could a bigger problem if uncovered later, after you signed the lease without them. Technically, it is illegal for paying roommates to not sign the lease.
Forgoing renter’s insurance
The landlord may have the home insured, but that does not cover your personal property. You may think it is a waste of money to get renter’s insurance, but if something happens to your possessions while in the rented house, you could be without items or recourse.
The only time the landlord may be responsible for covering your items is if there is a preexisting danger the landlord failed to address. You should ask about this during the lease negotiation. If you are unsatisfied with what the landlord is willing to offer, begin shopping for tenant insurance.
Ignoring preexisting damage
When you move into a new home, you should inspect it whether you are buying it or renting it. If you don’t document the home's damage before you move in, it could be pinned on you.
Take pictures (phone cameras will do) and record any problems as soon as possible. Any delay will give reasonable doubt to claims that the damage was there before you arrived. If you find something substantial, ask the landlord to fix it or lower the rent to adjust for the less favourable conditions.
Ignoring the neighbourhood
A home’s neighbourhood
is an important part of determining its value. To be sure that your rent is fair, ask around the neighbourhood to see how much rent and mortgages are in comparable homes. You could find that you are paying your landlord too much.
Research or a tour of the neighbourhood will give you an idea about the local safety. You may decide that your rented home is not as desirable if the neighbourhood is bad. Don’t let the landlord sell you on a safe home if it really isn’t safe. Looking at where the home is determines a lot about its true value.
If you are conscientious and avoid laziness, you will not make these renters' mistakes. Remember that anyone can be landlords when moving into a rented home, so you should be a little skeptical of prices and lease agreements. A little diligence can go a long way to making your tenancy a good one. If things go bad, you can always move again