What a Renter Should Know

The number of renters is steadily increasing. If you’re a renter, here are six things you need to know:

1. Rent is negotiable. While this may depend on your local market, to secure a reduction you need to show them you’re interested (and serious) by signing a lease immediately upon agreeing on a price.

2. Don’t pay double for pets. While it’s usually customary for renters who own pets to pay a deposit, some landlords charge a monthly fee (sometimes per animal). It should be one or the other: Deposit or Monthly Fee. If your landlord insists, try to negotiate the price. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Get your deposit back. be proactive when moving into or out of a rental. Document the before and after with pictures as well as any upgrades, repairs or changes to the premises while living there. When you leave, insist on a final walk through with the landlord and have a witness present. Also, make a timely, written request for the return of the security deposit after familiarizing yourself with your jurisdiction’s rules regarding security deposits.

4. Check landlords. While you usually know what you expect when it comes to building preferences, location and amenities, don’t forget about your landlord. Try to get some insight on their customer service styles and how they will respond to repairs. Also, use common sense. If the place doesn’t look clean and things don’t work, that’s usually an indicator that it may turn into a negative situation.

5. Leverage the rental application fee. Landlords can charge a fee for checking your credit. If you apply to multiple places, this can add up. Two ways to combat this is to run the credit report yourself or ask for the application fee to be applied to your rent.

6. Discuss any changes to the property with your landlord. While you want to make it your own, you can’t make changes without permission. If you don’t, you could end up losing your deposit or paying additional for ‘damages’.