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Mistakes for First-Time Renters to Avoid

If you are renting an apartment for the first time, then it is important that you avoid common pitfalls that other new renters make.

After all, a rental agreement is a legally binding document and breaking an agreement prematurely could lead to the loss of your deposit, a ding against your credit and poor rental history. While there are some ways to get out of a lease, they are not always fail-proof unless there are circumstances surrounding the abrupt end of your lease that would be legally justified. When renting an apartment, whether it is your first apartment or not, it is crucial that you view the apartment beforehand and point out any damages, no matter how small. It is also important to thoroughly read your lease and be aware of the expected move in costs including application fees, security deposit fees, moving expenses, placing utilities in your name and any additional costs such as cable and internet installations. It is also crucial that you consider rental insurance, even if your lease does not require you to obtain it, as renters insurance can be an invaluable way to protect your belongings. Should you choose to obtain a roommate to help cover expenses, ensure that you both live similar lifestyles and can agree on certain ground rules. To learn more about the common mistakes that first-time renters make and how to avoid them, review the sections that have been provided below.

Failing to View an Apartment Before Moving in

You should always view an apartment before signing a lease. If a potential landlord shows you an apartment, then gain confirmation that the unit you are viewing would be the one that you would lease. Often times rental establishments will show you an apartment with a similar layout, especially if space has not yet opened up in another unit or if renovations are underway. It is important to inspect an apartment beforehand in order to point out any damages or problems, no matter how small. Damages that are not pointed out initially could end up blamed on you during your residency, which could mean a reduction in your security deposit when you regain it.

Set priorities when viewing apartments and be aware of the amenities that you need and those that you might want. Apartments with amenities can often cost much more, so it is best to compare the cost with the features of the unit. For example, an apartment that has a washer and dryer in the building is generally far less expensive than an apartment that has a washer and dryer in every unit. Cutting out certain apartment amenities can save you money in the long run.

Skimming the Lease Agreement

As mentioned previously, your rental agreement is a legally binding document. One of the most common mistakes for first-time renters is to skim the lease or not review the lease at all. It is important to read each detail of the lease, as it will provide you with important information about your residency including rules for the apartment, upfront costs, security deposit information and lease length. If you have any questions or concerns about your lease, then it is crucial that you clarify those questions with your landlord prior to signing. This way, any corrections can be made if needed.

Underestimating Move in and Rental Fees

First-time renters commonly underestimate the cost of moving into an apartment as well as the monthly costs during the residency. When moving into an apartment, consider the following fees:

  • Application fees
  • Your security deposit
  • Pet deposits, when applicable
  • Deposits needed for cable, internet or utilities
  • Moving truck costs

These fees can quickly add up. Rent is likely not the only monthly expense that you will incur. Most apartments do not include utilities and those that do include utilities will likely not include every single one. Recent studies show that it is best to have a rental amount that is no more than a third of your income. In addition to rent and utilities, you may also want certain amenities such as internet, cable or satellite.

Once start-up costs have been covered, it is common for first-time renters to remember essential household items that will likely be needed. Plan ahead for additional household expenses such as the following:

  • Towels and bedding
  • Toilet paper
  • A plunger
  • Dishes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bathing supplies

Being aware of all of your upfront costs and monthly expenses will save you a lot of stress in the future. Discover common mistakes you can avoid on move-in day here.

Failing to Ask About Utilities

Speaking of utilities, you should always ask your landlord what utilities the apartment complex will cover if any. Once you have a move in date set, it is crucial that you set up the utilities in your name. Utility companies will allow you to choose the day that the bill goes into your name, making it easy to ensure that you have electricity when you move in. If you fail to put a utility bill in your name, then you may either not have electricity on the first day of your new apartment or you may have to pay back any charges that went to the landlord.

Forgoing Renter’s Insurance

Renters insurance is a form of insurance mainly sought to cover the cost to replace your belongings in the event that they are destroyed or stolen. Renters insurance is generally a low-cost way to insure your property, with monthly premiums sometimes as low as $20. When purchasing renters insurance, it is a good idea to ask your insurance agent about the types of perils (the reasons for the loss) that are covered under the policy to ensure that you are receiving the level of coverage that you need.

Selecting the Wrong Roommates

Should you choose to obtain a roommate in order to lessen your monthly expenses, it is crucial that you and your potential roommate sit down to go over ground rules and ensure that the two of you live similar lifestyles. Some of the biggest fallouts between roommates include the following:

  • Noise levels after a certain time, especially if one renter has an early shift
  • Temperature settings
  • Guests
  • Parking spaces
  • Chores
  • Rental agreements

If you have a roommate who fails to pay their portion of rent, then it is crucial that you understand that the rental agreement will still legally obligate you to pay the full rent amount, even if a roommate suddenly moves out. Therefore, ensure that your potential roommate has steady paying work or a decent work history before agreeing to share the apartment.

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