While much has been said in the debate about renting vs. buying, the fact remains that millions of Americans are renters. And this is not surprising as there are many pros to renting. First, being a renter is more flexible and relaxing than being a homeowner. It’s much easier to move when you are a renter than when you actually own a home. Also, there are no property taxes to be paid with renting. Maintenance is much easier, and you have access to certain amenities, depending on your rental. This, however, does not mean there aren’t certain risks that come with this option, and it’s essential to be well-informed and prepared beforehand. If you are not careful, you can easily be scammed or your rights hurt. Thankfully there are some ways to protect yourself as a renter, and we will explore them in this article.
How to protect yourself as a renter?
- Know your rights
- Inform yourself about the real estate market
- Insist on meeting the landlord
- Focus on your lease
- Ask for references from other tenants
- Document everything
Find out what your rights are
Your knowledge of your rights will always be your biggest protection. If something is written in the law, there is no way for someone to take it away from you. Most scammers count on you not being well informed about your rights, and you must not let that happen. Some general tenant rights apply to all states, like the right not to be discriminated against when renting, the right to a habitable home, and the right to privacy. But when it comes to certain details, it differs from state to state. Things like rent control, interest payments in deposits, and rekeying laws are regulated differently in different states. And it’s important that you get informed about this. Thankfully today, there is easy access to these pieces of information online. Some websites tell you the laws in certain states, so you won’t have to go through too much trouble to find them.
Keep up with the real estate market
Another way to protect yourself as a renter is to make sure you are up to date with the current real estate market. It’s good to know the current rental prices on the market so you can avoid getting scammed. Often people will say they are renting a property for an incredibly low price, but they are asking you to wire the money, which is the first sign that something sketchy is going on. But for somebody who isn’t familiar with the average prices these days, it is easy to fall for this scam. If the offer seems too good, you should insist on seeing the property. Usually, if it’s a scam, they will refuse to meet you and show you the property.
Never rent from an absent landlord
A huge warning sign when it comes to renting is an “absentee landlord.” If you are inquiring about a rental, but the landlord is never there and can’t meet, you should be suspicious. It’s not normal that a landlord is never available and always sends someone else as a proxy. More often than not, this is a sign of a scam. In these situations, you must insist on meeting the landlord, and if you never get positive feedback, you should give up on that rental. It’s never worth exposing yourself to this big of a risk.
Carefully read your lease
When you are a renter, your lease is your most important document. The lease regulates all the important elements of your deal with your landlord, and you need to be really careful when negotiating it. Because if you are not focused, you might sign a lease that is very unfavorable to you. The main elements in a lease you must consider are the rent amount and due date. Make sure that the price you verbally agreed on with your future landlord matches the one on your lease. The same goes for the due date. Another important detail is the termination date. This part of the lease is especially delicate because you might not wish to stay in this apartment for long and hope for a better deal soon. You need to consider the best time to move for renters before deciding on a termination date; think about this and then plan your termination date accordingly. It’s because early termination of a lease can be pricey, so make sure you negotiate that clause in the lease as well. Always insist on everything being written down in a lease.
Always ask for references
Even if a landlord leaves a good first impression on you and the property seems really nice, it still isn’t enough. You should always ask for references from other tenants, past or present. It’s incredibly helpful to hear other people’s objective opinions so you can make a well-informed decision. Ask the other tenants about their experience with the landlord. Was he communicative and helpful? Were there any issues or tenant conflicts? If so, how did they solve them? If they are past tenants, ask them if they would rent from this landlord again. If the landlord is really against giving you these references, that might be a sign that something isn’t right.
Having proof is incredibly useful in any issues between landlords and tenants. Especially if it comes to court. Once you move into the rental, document everything and make sure it has a time stamp. This way, you will avoid being accused by the landlord of property damage, and you are more likely to get the security deposit back. Also, if the landlord s being discriminatory or abusive, try and record it, as that can be very helpful to your case.
These six simple tips will help you protect yourself as a renter and save you a lot of trouble. Just remember always to check your lease before you sign it, insist on meeting the landlord, and document everything.
Meta Description- If you are going to be a first-time renter soon, you should read our article and learn to protect yourself as a renter!