You found the right home to rent, in the right neighborhood, and at the right price. Good for you!
Seasoned home renters know the challenges of renting a home don’t end there. Here are a few more things to keep in mind when renting your first home:
1. Get renter’s insurance.
While it might not seem like you own enough stuff to justify rental insurance, spring for it.
The potential of an accidental loss of personal items like clothes, books, electronics, furniture, and appliances due to negligence can add up.
Renters insurance is cheap: in many instances, it only costs $10-20 a month, depending on the type of insurance coverage and home location. *Some landlords even require it as a condition of renting their property.
2. Know your landlord’s responsibilities and your own.
One of the benefits of renting a home is that the landlord or property manager is responsible for most maintenance and certain utilities. Still, it will likely be up to you to see that they always follow through.
Be sure to review your lease agreement carefully to find out what your particular landlord is on the hook for and what you’ll have to do yourself (e.g., replacing light bulbs, water and trash service, pest extermination, cable).
3. Know your legal rights as a home renter in your city and state.
You’ll need to know your legal options if you end up in a rental situation with a hard-to-handle landlord, a difficult roommate, or a health and safety issue with your property.
In most cases a landlord must give 24 hours notice before entering the premises, and normally can’t seize a tenant’s property for nonpayment of rent.
Knowing these types of rental rights can save you a lot of hassle and money and help you potentially avoid unlawful charges.
4. Meet the next-door neighbors and ask about the neighborhood’s nightlife.
(If possible, do this before you’ve signed a lease!)
Otherwise, you may soon discover that the couple next door loves to sing karaoke punk rock at 2 AM while chain-smoking cigars on the front lawn.
You can also learn much about the home, the neighborhood, and the landlord that your real estate agent might not have volunteered during the rental search.
On a lighter note, knowing your neighbors may be an easy way to help yourself out of a jam. For instance, you could both trade keys or garage door opener remotes in case either of you gets locked out.
Following these four tips can save any renter a lot of headaches and ensure that the rental experience of a first-time home renter is as pleasurable as possible.