8 Things That Will Save You money And Keep You From Stressing When Renting
By Maegan Daquano
I have been a leasing consultant for six years and I have seen people make the same mistakes time and time again. Despite going over leases, giving copies, and providing a packet with the extra important information inside residents still, seem to miss key details. I have contacted some of my friends in the industry to see if it was only me having these issues and to my relief, they all run into the same types of problems. While I’m glad I’m not alone in this, I am a fellow renter and could have made the same mistakes if I never worked in the industry. When my friends need help with their apartments, I’m the first person they call. But you shouldn’t need to have an insider to be able to rent safely. I’m here to help you have the most enjoyable renting experience and more importantly save you money.
How to avoid mistakes when renting:
1. Know what you want before starting your search. You don’t need a super detailed list, but a few basic things will go a long way. What size?, What is your budget?, What feature is most important to you?. If you have allergies and can’t have carpeting we won’t be able to accommodate you unless you make that clear from the beginning. If you don’t know what to ask the most common questions I hear are: How much is the monthly rent, what utilities are included, is there a washer/dryer in the apartment, and what amenities do you offer.
2. You are allowed to be picky as long as availability
There is nothing wrong with needing an apartment/house ASAP, but if you are on a time crunch you can’t afford to be picky. If you want a lake view and one won’t be ready for two months you’ll have to wait until then. We can’t make an apartment available to you, but don’t be afraid to ask about transferring later. The earlier you look for an apartment the pickier you’re allowed to be. Call multiple times to check in, we really don’t mind. The leasing agent will call when they can with updates but availability changes constantly and they have other people walking in the door with money in hand.
3. There are things leasing agents cannot tell you. There are fair housing laws that prevent us from going into great detail. For example, we can’t say if an area is safe or not because you can never tell what could happen in the future. Answers like these will be subjective anyway, so I always recommend looking up a sheriff ’s report of the area. These are online and accessible to everyone. You know better than anyone what you’re looking for. We can’t tell you what demographic of people live there, or what apartment your friend is in, or who your neighbor will be. That is up to you to find out for yourself.
4. Check pet policies before getting an animal. Some apartments only allow cats. Those that allow dogs usually have breed restrictions, so if you buy first and register later you will either have to get rid of the dog or have to move out. If you decide not to tell the office you got a dog someone will probably tattle on you. Unfortunately, a lot of people see a restricted dog and run to the office out of fear. I’ve seen people complain about a lab because they thought it was a pit bull. There can also be weight limits either for the whole community or depending on what floor you are on. This includes large fish tanks as well, so ask or review your lease in detail before getting any sort of animal.
5. We cannot change policy for you. If we make an exception for one person we have to do it for everyone. Despite our personal feelings, legally we can’t have different rules for everyone. Just because we like you doesn’t mean we can waive your late fees. Believe me when I say we want to help as much as we can, but there is a line we aren’t able to cross.
6. Always read your lease. Don’t make the excuse “I didn’t know so it doesn’t count”. Everything you could possibly need to know is in there and your leasing agent will most likely go over all of the paperwork with you. If for some reason they don’t, ask them to. There are a lot of addendums to pay attention to, so have a general understanding of each one. You can always ask for a copy of the lease. I personally email all of my residents a copy because I know how easy it is to misplace papers when moving. Plus you’ll be able to reference it whenever you need. If you’re the type to keep all of your important documents in one place ask for a physical copy as well.
7. Find out when the rent is due. Most will be due on the first in most apartment complexes/rental properties, make certain you find out the exact day before you sign the lease and find out the exact amount you need to pay. Make certain the due and amount due are in writing. Managers may offer a few days grace period, but don’t take advantage of their “grace.” The due date is when your check should be in the office. Everyone has a phone and if you don’t have time to call then email. If you are out of town, see if you can mail a check, some complex- es may let you pay over the phone, and many places have a website dedicated to paying rent.
8. When you plan on moving, you have to give notice. Always. If your lease is coming to an end or if you’re leaving in the middle you always have to let someone know you are moving out. We can’t get an apartment/house ready if we think you’re still living there and you will be charged rent until you have that notice in. You’ll owe through your notice and no one wants to pay for two places at once. Have it in writing and have proof that you handed it in. 30 or 60 days is the standard, but always double check.