Posted Oct 15, 2014
6 Common Mistakes First-Time Renters Make
Renting your first apartment is exciting. It not only affords you a space to keep all your stuff and lay your head at night, but an apartment also provides a place to entertain friends, host gatherings, and make tons of memories with people you love.
Despite all the benefits of renting your first place, there are some challenges–particularly when it comes to the ins-and-outs of a leasing agreement and the nitty gritty details of renting. Here are six of the most common mistakes that first-time renters make and how you can avoid them:
1. Not reading the lease
An apartment lease is the most important piece of written information you will receive, but many first-time renters don’t actually read the details. Sure, getting through all of that legal jargon isn’t fun and takes some time, but it’s crucial that you read every word of the lease before you sign it.
Once you sign on the dotted line, you are legally bound to the specifications outlined in the lease–even if you didn’t read it. Most leases are straightforward, but if there is something strange or disconcerting, you want to address it with the landlord right away. Fully read the lease to ensure that you don’t get yourself into an uncomfortable or frightening legal situation.
2. Moving in sight-unseen
Before you sign a lease, it’s crucial to visit the apartment that you’ll be moving into. Landlords often show you photos of a place, but it’s very important that you see it for yourself to avoid any unwanted surprises. An in-person apartment visit gives you the opportunity to thoroughly inspect it yourself.
3. Forgetting to budget a move
One important financial consideration you should make before agreeing to rent is the cost of a move. Many first-time renters save up money for a deposit, the first-month’s rent, and other renting costs, but often forget to factor in the cost of moving all of their belongings and furniture into a space. Even if you don’t hire help from a moving company, you’ll still be spending money on the move. Don’t forget to budget for boxes and other packing supplies, like bubble wrap and tape.
4. Underestimating costs
In addition to factoring in moving costs, first-time renters should also determine the costs associated with a rental. You may be able to afford the rent, but before you decide to rent a place, you need to calculate all the related living costs, including utilities, transportation, cable and internet.
Extra fees associated with an apartment can make it prohibitively expensive to live there from month to month. Make sure, before you legally agree to rent for a year, that you can actually afford to live there.
5. Forgetting to discuss budgeting with roommates
Not only is it important for you to think of your own costs when moving into a new place, but it’s also important to discuss your budget with the people you’re going to live with. It’s important to determine who is going to pay for what (and how) before the payments actually begin, so you can avoid conflict down the road.
After all, according to Rent.com, the #1 thing that renters said they wished they had discussed before moving in with roommates was how the finances would be divided, and 16 percent of renters said that splitting the finances was the biggest hurdle they experienced after moving in together. So, laying it all out from the get-go and sticking to a budgeting plan can help people avoid troubles once they’re already living together.
6. Verifying ownership
When you rent an apartment, you’re simply leasing it from someone else who owns the property. Before you sign any legal documents with anyone, make sure you know who actually owns the apartment, and ensure it’s the same person or business listed on your rental agreement.
There have been many instances in which first-time renters were scammed out of money because they signed a lease with someone who didn’t actually own the property (such as another renter, or a scam artist). You want to make sure you don’t find yourself in a situation where you’ve signed a contract without any legal standing and can be forced to move out unexpectedly.
Do you remember any mistakes you made as a first-time renter? Tweet them to @Lovely!
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Photo Credit: Stacie DaPonte