Nine Things Renters Should Know Part 2
Today we’ll continue with the last five things that renters should know. In part 1, we looked at some of the potential legal implications of leasing. Here we’ll look at some general consideration for the tenant.
Safety first. Occupancy laws, in many states, require that landlords provide a minimum of safety equipment, among them: deadbolts, peepholes, window locks and safety glass. If your lease calls for or the landlord promises certain safety features, verify that those features are in place or insure the landlord follows through on those promises. Before you enter into a lease, call the local crime prevention unit of your police department and ask about crime in the neighborhood. Ask the landlord if you can interview other tenants about the safety of the area. Visit the location after dark to access the lighting. If you are not comfortable with the safety and security of the location, move on.
Get renter’s insurance.
A landlord’s insurance covers the property and does not cover any of your personal property. A loss of your personal property is normally covered by renter’s insurance. This insurance is fairly inexpensive. What happens if you are sued by someone who alleges they were injured in your rental because of your negligence? Most people don’t think about an injury to a guest, but it could happen. Your renter’s insurance should also cover you for theft, damage, or loss of property. Some policies may also provide dislocation allowance, but this will likely come at a higher cost.
are tenants responsible for repairs or property maintenance. You should receive information (it may be in the lease itself) about your responsibilities for identifying repair or maintenance issues. Follow the directions you’ve been given to notify the landlord of maintenance problems. Failure to do so, in a timely manner, may result in damages being charged to you. Be sure you document any problems by noting the problem, date and time you notice the problem and the date you notified the landlord. Pictures can be valuable as well. The lease may spell out response times that the landlord must meet for maintenance issues, hence the reason for keeping your lease in a handy place. If specified and the landlord fails to respond you may have some options, including: withholding a portion of rent until the problem is fixed, paying for the repair yourself and deducting the amount from your rent, or abandoning the property altogether without liability. Laws vary by state, so be sure you do your research before you have an issue. Don’t assume what your rights are!
Neighbors and conflict.
Renting, particularly in multi-unit facilities has its own set of hassles. Most leases contain rules about respecting neighbors and may spell out specifics such as quite hours, use of outdoor cooking equipment, use of common areas, parking lots etc. One of the most common problems is dealing with noisy neighbors. While a noisy neighbor can be irritating, you’ll likely not gain a friendship by confronting them directly. First, notify the landlord about your neighbor’s behavior. Rather than confront the problem neighbor, use your landlord as a third-party enforcer. This may help preserve the relationship between you and your neighbor.
No one wants to face an eviction, but life throws us a curve sometimes. Proving a wrongful eviction can be tough and expensive. If you have sufficient proof then it may be worth it to fight against the eviction. What is the outcome if you win? You will still have to deal with the same landlord and that may be worse than taking a loss and moving somewhere else. If you lose, there may be financial and credit implications that come with that loss. Carefully consider how an eviction may affect you, your finances, and your ability to rent property in the future.
In continuing this series, we’ll next take a look at Should Renters Get a Home Inspection.