The world of renting is die-hard and cutthroat. Ok, maybe not, but it certainly can be harrowing and stressful, especially if you need to find a place to live quickly. When you are searching for an apartment, there are some crucially important things that you must make sure you do—and some that you don’t—to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for.
One of the easiest money mistakes to make when renting is not viewing the apartment or house before agreeing to rent. Sometimes it can be hard to set up a time for a viewing, but it really is important. While you can view pictures, they (obviously) only allow you to see what the landlord wants you to see. Also from experience, pictures can be taken to make a room an extra 200 square feet, so if size matters for you, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than going there and viewing it yourself. Set up an appointment with your potential landlord to see the space preferably empty. If push comes to shove, view it no matter what. Even if someone is currently occupying the space, knock on the door the door and simply state that you are a prospective renter and that you just wanted to get an eye for the place. If it is impossible for you to physically see the space, have a friend, someone you can trust go and scope it out for you.
Once you have decided on a space, make sure you know all of the information before signing a lease. This begins with actually reading over the ENTIRE lease. If you don’t do this, you could be in big trouble later if something goes wrong. Even if you are a seasoned renter or have rented before, don’t assume that you know what is in the lease. Leases are not standardized, so they might not be the same from place to place. In the long run, reading the lease for ten minutes is much easier than realizing later that the place you are living has rules and regulations you didn’t know about. If you honestly won’t take the time to read the lease then at least scan it for portions that say either you are completely responsible for something or if it says that the landlord does not hold any responsibility.
Part of reading the lease is becoming aware what your space/apartment complex comes with and allows. Amenities are very important, so you should know what would be available to you before you commit to living anywhere. Is there a laundry room on the premise, or do you have to go to a Laundromat? Is there a doorman or security guard that will be watching over the building? You should also know if there are rules about pets of any kind. You definitely don’t want to sign a lease and then have to give the dog away that you raised since it was a puppy.
Lastly, after you have read the lease, found it acceptable, and have decided to sign it, make sure you also invest in renter’s insurance. It is much better to be safe than sorry in the event that a fire or flood or some other natural disaster compromises your space while you are renting. You don’t want to have to pay to fix a space that you are only living in short term; that just doesn’t make sense. It could also be wildly more expensive than you can afford to fix.