This post from Taylor at TrendyCheapo came at the perfect time. Taylor is a pretty awesome chick who just quit her job to freelance full time! Woot woot! She’s from D.C. and writes about achieving financial freedom and DIY-ing. Bascially, we were meant to be BFFs. 🙂 Take it away, Taylor:
Are you a rental dweller? I am and I also happen to work in property management! Like Cat posted recently, my husband and I will probably be renting for a while.
During my time in the biz I’ve seen tenants incur charges, miss money making opportunities, and take credit score hits after some common renter mistakes that are totally avoidable with the right knowledge.
I’ve been dying to share these mistakes to avoid in a post and so excited to do so with the fabulous readers of Budget Blonde. So let’s get to it!
Not requesting or taking full advantage of a pre move-in inspection.
A walk through with the landlord before moving in is your chance to inspect and document all superficial pre-existing defects. Time and time again I see renters not take this inspection seriously. (Not going to lie this was me before I worked in the industry).
What happens when you move out and these aren’t documented? They may think you did it and you could be charged for the repairs. Inspect your apartment thoroughly and keep record of all dings, marks, and scratches no matter how minuscule they may seem.
Not contacting management right away for maintenance problems.
Keep your eyes open! If you notice something wrong in the rental while you live there, contact management immediately. A benefit of renting is the convenience of onsite maintenance. Nonetheless, I’ve seen loads of residents who report maintenance issues at the last minute. Major no no y’all.
Small maintenance issues snow ball into much larger problems (like a leaky toilet turning into a collapsed ceiling… yea I’ve smelled it and seen it happen). Report problems before larger ones occur. If not, be prepared for (you guessed it) paying for the damage.
Avoiding the leasing office or landlord.
Get buddy buddy with property management and be a reasonable tenant. Why? You need them. They have your personal information. They’ll be your reference for future rentals. They negotiate your renewal rate and take your rent payments.
Additionally, managers are more willing to meet you half way when you make special requests if they know and like you. They want to keep apartments occupied with “good people” and managers can justify lots of rule bending for “good tenants.” Also, don’t be afraid to talk to them if you’re facing hardship unexpectedly. Lots of landlords offer a one-time courtesy late fee waiver.
Not reading the lease thoroughly or knowing your tenant rights.
It’s surprising how often renters sign documents without reading it or asking any questions. You’re not expected to be an expert always ask if you don’t understand the terms. Also you should research your rights as a tenant in your state. In some situations extra knowledge can make or save you money.
Did you know in some states if you aren’t mailed your security deposit within 20 days you may be entitled to double the amount? Cha-ching! Did you know in most states landlords are not able to collect two rents on one rental unit?
If you need to break a lease and your landlord requests that you pay the lease out in full you could be getting duped. Ask if the unit will be re-rented when you vacate or if you can find someone to take over your lease before putting down hard cash. If you are moving and wondering what you can afford, you should check out this rent affordability calculator, it goes way beyond the basic rent calculators out there.
Forgetting to leave a forwarding address after move out.
This mistake may have life altering ramifications. You must give a forwarding address every time you move out of a rental in order to receive refunds or final charges by mail.
What happens if you don’t give a new address? The landlord is relieved of its obligation to return your deposit and you won’t receive your final charges in excess of the deposit. Remember that personal information we discussed earlier? That’s enough info to send you straight to collections after 60 or 90 days of non-payment. A potentially devastating hit to your credit score.
I get calls almost daily from past tenants who moved out years ago who didn’t leave an address. Not a good look! Write your address on every piece of move-out paperwork they give you even if you don’t agree with the charges. You can always dispute them later.
And that sums it up! My insider tips to be a rock star renter. Now over to you! Do you have any rental tips I missed? Have you used any of the ones above to save a few bucks? Share below!