The Renters Journey
On the road that leads to homeownership, there are a lot of steps. However, just as the old proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. In this series of articles, we will walk you through several of the crucial steps that many homeowners before you have taken. Along the way, we will give you some tips and advice on how to navigate this journey so that, someday, you will step over the threshold of your very own home.
Step 3: Tips and Tricks of Renting Experts
It can be stressful to find the right rental space and to organize a move to get you into one, but that doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing from then on. Living in a rented home can come with its own unique set of challenges too. But in this article, we’ll give you some tips for how to get the most you can out of living in your apartment or rental house.
Establish a Positive Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Your landlord is not your adversary. They are a business owner, supplying you with a service, in exchange for a price. The better the relationship, the more likely everything will go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few tips for building up that relationship:
Fill Out the Application Honestly
Avoid stretching the truth or telling small lies in order to make yourself appear a better candidate.
Understand Your Lease
You need to fully understand the lease before you sign it. These are the rules that will affect your daily life.
Get Everything in Writing
Document all communications with your landlord. Record verbal agreements to protect you from any future disputes with proof.
Honor the Terms of Your Lease
Any violation of your agreement, no matter how small, is considered breaking your lease. If you need something changed, talk to your landlord. This is a business relationship – everything is negotiable.
Pay the Rent… on Time… Every Time
Make sure that you can afford to pay rent even in difficult months. Drop it off before the due date whenever possible.
Take Good Care of the Place
Treat the rental unit as if it were your own. It gives you a better chance of getting your security deposit back when you move out.
Keep a Tidy Home
Landlords don’t want to see their property trashed. Keeping it clean will earn you much more trust.
While you certainly do not need to become friends with your landlord, kindness can go a long way.
Report Maintenance Issues Immediately
While your landlord might not like receiving the news about a needed repair, do not put it off. Unchecked issues only get more expensive to fix. Handle small fixes like replacing light bulbs or the batteries in your smoke detectors on your own.
Cultivate a Good Relationship with Your Neighbors
Again, while establishing a friendship isn’t necessary, it can help to have a positive relationship with those who live around you. Meet your neighbors and let them get to know you a little. A neighbor who doesn’t know you at all is more likely to take even small complaints straight to the landlord. If you are approachable and friendly, then they may feel more inclined to politely let you know if your television is too loud without filing a complaint.
Be mindful that, while your home is your space, you may share walls, floors, or ceilings with other people’s homes as well. If you’re having an issue with one of your neighbors, try having a conversation with them about the problem. If they aren’t willing to correct the issue, you should report it to the property manager or landlord.
Purchase Renters Insurance
Even if you are not required to carry a renters’ insurance policy according to your lease, you should at least consider purchasing one. If a disaster or theft occurs, a landlord’s insurance will cover repairs and replacements for the building itself, but it will not cover any of the contents within the affected units. Having your own policy will help to protect your personal property against such an occurrence.
Make it Your Own, Where You Can
One of the biggest drawbacks to living in a rented home is how limited you are regarding making upgrades. While you will not likely be able to make any permanent changes to your unit, there are still things you can do to make it more uniquely you. Put up framed photos and artwork to fill out the walls. Buy a large rug to change up the look of a room.
Another problem that many renters run into is when trying to save space. Try to use your space wisely, such as bed risers and over-the-door storage racks. A good rule to use is when you cannot find horizontal space, use the vertical space instead.
And, if there is something that could truly stand to be replaced, talk with your landlord. If you are willing to put in the work (or cost) yourself, they may just give you the go-ahead.
When you sign a lease, you are entering into a business relationship. As such, you carry the power to negotiate your end of the deal, and you should exercise that power. While negotiating the cost of rent may be more difficult to do, you should consider trying to negotiate things like parking spaces or pet fees. Most research indicates that moving during the winter when there is less competition from other possible tenants, might even give you the capability to negotiate the cost of rest itself in many places.
Another way to save money is by taking on some energy-saving measures. While making major changes may not be possible in a rented place, you can still make small changes that can help out. Try installing window shades, energy-efficient light bulbs, or maybe even a programmable thermostat. Just make sure that you clear any of these changes with your landlord before you make them.
Document Both Walkthroughs
Make sure that you take pictures and keep a record of the condition of everything when you moved in. And when you move out, refer back to that documentation. You want to try to leave the property in the same condition that it was when you moved in.
After you move the last of your boxes and furniture out, give the property a good cleaning. If you aren’t able or willing to do so yourself, hire a professional company to do so on your behalf. Doing so will help you get as much of your security deposit back as possible.