It’s a renter’s market out there, folks, and with younger generations gradually moving into the renting age, an influx of people inexperienced with the rental process are attempting to find homes. A combination of fierce competition and skyrocketing rent prices means the mistakes made during your first rental process can have devastating effects on your bank account. With a little bit of foresight and these guidelines, you can avoid some of the most common blunders and ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Set a rental budget and stick to it. This sounds a lot easier than it is, especially when you’re looking for a place in such a competitive rental market. Avoid viewing places that you can’t afford; it’s setting yourself up for failure if you fall in love with it and try to make it work. During your budgeting session, you should also consider the costs of utilities, transportation to and from work, and other everyday expenditures to make sure you can afford the areas you’re perusing.
- Protecting Personal Information
The rental process sees you handing out personal information left and right, so you’ll want to do the most you can to ensure your sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Ask your potential landlord to use a screening service instead of just handing over your social security number. A company like SmartMove will give your landlord all the information he or she needs, including access to your eviction and criminal history, along with your credit score, without putting your information at risk.
- Sourcing Apartments
Be wary of the ways you search for apartments. Craigslist can have some winners, but there have been many scams that have seen potential tenants finding themselves in dangerous situations. Use verified rental websites like Hotpads.com, Padfinder.com, or Apartmentfinder.com. The landlords and rental agents have to pay a fee for listing on many of these types of sites, and this further assurance will help keep you out of danger and help you find a legitimate place in less time. Another benefit of these sites are the detailed, professional photos. Time is money, and timeliness when trying to secure an apartment before the hundreds of others in your community doing the same thing is important.
- Focusing on the Details
Don’t forget to look at the big picture when you begin your hunt for an apartment. If you’re easily wowed, make a list of all the necessities you simply can’t live without and stick to it. While the bathroom may have that tub you’d love, if the kitchen doesn’t work for your culinary needs then say no. Don’t be swayed by add-ons—make sure the place you choose has all the basic essentials you’re looking for and don’t be upsold by a wily renting agent or landlord. Stick to your guns, stick to your list, and turn your attention to the upgrades only once the apartment in question has all the necessities you previously listed.
- Declining Renter’s Insurance
Renter’s insurance is a good idea, no matter how you look at it. Renters can often incorrectly assume that their belongings are covered under the landlord’s policy, but in most cases this isn’t true. Renter’s insurance can be extremely affordable, and protects your belongings in case of fire, natural disasters, and burglary in most cases. The standard insurance policies cover up to $100,000, but there are various plans that will cover even higher amounts.
- Ignoring Lease Details
Read every portion of your lease and ask someone more experienced in the rental world to take a look at it for you. Failing to thoroughly understand exactly what you’re signing on for is one of the biggest mistakes new renters make. If something on the lease seems suspicious, ask your landlord about it before signing. It can be tempting to sign immediately when facing competition, but this is a surefire way to get yourself into a housing pickle. Things to look for: late fees, pet policies, utility costs, and any other fine print that seems a bit fishy.
It’s a renter’s market, and you can beat the competition and land yourself a new home—your bank account will thank you when you find the affordable apartment or house of your dreams.