Renting 101

posted 2/27/2015 in General

Not everyone can afford to own a home, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Renting a place to live, whether it’s an apartment, condo or small house, still provides you with a roof over your head.

And, similar to those who are looking to purchase a home, you need to be on your toes when looking at rental properties. With many leases ending in May or beginning in June, now is a big time for renters to be looking at properties.

If you are looking for a place to rent, Lincoln Savings Bank wants you to be aware of a few common terms you may encounter, as well as questions you should be asking. These resources will help you make better decisions and may even help you save some money along the way.

Common Rental Terms

There are some terms you need to know if you plan on renting a place to live. A lease agreement can look confusing, but knowing these terms will certainly help.

  • Deposit/security deposit- this is an amount of money a landlord will charge to hold your spot on a property. Think of it as a way to save your spot. A deposit is most commonly equal to a month of rent.

  • Rent- what you will pay to live in an apartment, condo or house each month.

  • Lease- a legal document you sign when you want to rent a property. It typically outlines things like the length of time you can live there, what rent is and any rules and regulations you have to comply with to live there.

  • Utilities- these are things like electricity, water, sewage, garbage, gas usage, television and internet. Some of these things may be covered by your landlord while others may not be.

  • Occupancy limits- the rules about how many people can live in one property.

  • Landlord right of entry- this dictates what times your landlord may enter your apartment and if you have the right to be there when they do.

  • Repairs/maintenance- this covers what damages and repairs will be done at your expense or your landlord’s.

Questions to Ask

You’ll also want to be sure to ask a lot of questions. Try some of these:

  • When is rent due?

  • What utilities are included?

  • How much do utilities usually cost?

  • What are the other tenants/neighbors like?

  • Are a washing machine and dryer available? Are they free or coin operated?

  • Have there been any recurring problems with this unit?

  • Can I make modifications (paint, etc.)?

  • Is there off-street parking?

Beware of Scams

Unfortunately, some people don’t actually want to offer you a place a live. If you get an uneasy feeling about a place and the terms the person is requesting (paying the entire cost of a lease up front is a popular one), walk away.

Do an Inspection

Be sure to check things closely. This includes things like the windows, the toilet and bathtub, any signs of mold, or anything else that the landlord needs to fix before you sign the lease or reduce to price to do so.

Get Everything in Writing

A spoken agreement doesn’t mean anything. Get everything in writing. If the person you are renting from doesn’t hand you a written lease, you need to request one or walk away.

Typically, a renter is responsible for insuring their personal property.  Be sure to get a renters policy in place so it is effective on the day you move in so you are protected in the event of theft, fire, flood, etc.

Being vigilant when looking for a place to rent is key to getting a good deal that fits your budget and your lifestyle needs. Put these tips to use or share them with anyone you know who rents their home. Good luck!

Lincoln Savings Bank, member FDIC

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