Finding a new place to live can be overwhelming! If you’re getting ready to sign a lease, you may not be sure what to look out for in dealing with a new property management company or landlord.
Before you sign a lease, here are a few important things you will need to consider…….
Check for Reviews and Taxes
- Search the address online: You’ll be surprised at how much information you can find by doing this simple step.
- Check for Online Reviews: If you’re moving into a larger complex, check for reviews on popular websites. This may not work for larger cities, where you’ll be dealing with property management companies or landlords, but it helps to look!
- Chat with Neighbors and Residents: A property and/or landlord can seem great initially, but after your sign the lease, their true colors can come out. To see if the property is really as great as they claim, talk to the other residents as well as neighbors.
- Check for back taxes: Property taxes are a matter of public record here in the US. If the building owner is not paying their property taxes, the county can eventually put it into foreclosure. This could put you on the street with zero notice. Not to mention, it may mean that the owner lacks funds, which may affect building maintenance. In order to find out if the owner owes back taxes, check with the county treasurer or records website.
Critique the Lease
- Know your rights: Make sure you check with your state’s tenants’ rights laws and compare the lease document with those laws.
- Ask for clarification: If there is any vague language within the lease, ask for modification before signing. If the landlord or owner gives you any guff, consider that a red flag.
- Payment: Before applying for a rental, check the lease for payment due date, forms of payment accepted, and late charges. How will you be paying, will you need checks or can you pay online? Some companies require that payment is received by the 1st of the month, others expect it within the first business day of the new month, be sure to check.
- Auto-renewing lease: Check your document for information on whether the lease will renew after a certain amount of time or if you can pay month-to-month at that point.
Deposit and Moving Procedures
- Compare deposit amounts: Before applying for a rental, inquire about the deposit amount. If it seems particularly high, compare it with other properties in the area. Also, keep in mind that some properties may require extra deposit amounts if you have poor credit. You’ll also want to take into account how much a pet deposit might be.
- Documentation: When you move in, be sure to take very detailed notes and pictures of your new rental, especially of any defects. If possible, have your camera make a time stamp on each photo, or email them to yourself so you’ll at least have some time relevant documentation. Have the landlord sign off on this information. You will also want to do the same thing when you move out. This will give you a legal record that will help protect you if the landlord tries to pin previous issues with the rental onto you.
- Deposit reimbursement: Make sure it is 100% clear and documented when you will receive your deposit back after moving out, as well as if any of it is non-refundable. Chances are, if you have pets, you may have to pay a pet-deposit, and it may or may not be refundable.
Building and Maintenance
- Repair procedures: Before signing a lease, look into repair and replacement procedures, especially for appliances and plumbing.
- Utilities: Check into which utilities are included in your rent and which may be extra.
- Property maintenance: Seek clarity when it comes to who is responsible for things like landscaping, snow removal, HVAC filters, and even the cleaning of communal property, like hallways.
- Paint and decor: Check with the landlord – and make sure it is properly documented in your lease – whether you can do things like paint and place nail holes in the wall. Also, confirm whether or not you are responsible for painting and patching before moving out.
- Renters insurance: Even if the property owner has insurance on their property, keep in mind your personal property will almost definitely not be covered in that policy. Before signing a lease, get a quote for renters insurance.
- Flood insurance: Believe it or not, damage from flooding isn’t covered by renters insurance. Flood insurance is a separate policy only available through the federal government, but some insurance companies like Allstate can issue a policy and help you understand how it fits with your other insurance. * Learn more about flood insurance and find a local agent before you rent.
Hopefully this all proves to be helpful and not too overwhelming. While finding a rental can certainly be a lot of work, a little research and self-advocating can go a whole, lonnnnnng way! Happy renting!
*Subject to National Flood Insurance Program terms, conditions and availability. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NFIP flood policies are underwritten by the federal government and sold and administered by private insurance companies like Allstate through the Write Your Own (WYO) program.
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.’