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5 Biggest Mistakes Many People Make When Renting an Apartment

Typical Australian suburb from above in autumn

Renting an apartment may not involve huge financial commitment as buying a house, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to avoid these 5 biggest mistakes that many people make when renting an apartment.

In today’s day and age, given the rising prices and lack of vacant units, finding a good apartment is never easy. Renting an apartment and moving in is time-consuming. You need to pack and unpack every belonging when you move into the new house. Finding the apartment itself can also be an exhausting experience. In short, everything is just so emotionally exhausting.

However, picking a place without doing your due diligence can leave you regretting for lives. You may face problems such as unsafe neighborhoods or locked in battle with your landlord over issues that could have been easily avoided. Ultimately, renting an apartment can be both emotionally and financially draining.

These mistakes will cost you time and money in the long run. Whether this is your first rental or second, it pays to know what you should and shouldn’t do when renting an apartment. The good news is a little research can go a long way in helping you to identify mistakes before you make them.

1. Not Reading the Lease

When you found an apartment that might fit your criteria, it can be tempting to sign the document right away to book the unit. However, remember not to sign any documents if you haven’t read the legal agreement. The details in the agreement could affect your overall cost.

These could specify if you have to pay for your own electricity, gas, and water bills. Also, there could be additional charges for parking, maintenance fee, utility, and so on. No matter how appealing the apartment might look, don’t rush into a rental agreement if something doesn’t feel right.

The best way is to bring home the document and have your friends and family who have more renting experience than you to read it over and give their opinions to you. It is also important to make note of the penalties for late payment, the amount of deposit, housing rules, pet rules, rules about subleasing, and so forth.

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2. Renting the Apartment Without Seeing the Unit

Many people often rent their apartments without seeing them. However, it is advisable to check out the property in person. Photos can often be deceptive, leaving you disappointed and miserable when the reality turned out to be not as good as you thought it is.

Paying a visit to the property that you are interested to rent is a basic move. It will let you know if the apartment is clean or smells good. One of the most common rental scams involves someone posting an advertisement as a fake agent to collect down payment and the first-month rental from you to book the apartment. However, if you take the effort to see the unit in person, you will hardly be scammed.

“Nowadays, whenever I move, I visit the place at different times of the day.”

3. Not Understanding Your Rights as a Tenant

Different landlords have different restrictions on what happens on their property. You must always understand that as a tenant, you have the right to a reasonable level of privacy such as when a landlord may evict a renter, enter the apartment, and be required to make certain maintenance and repairs if needed, but they are generally required to give you notice beforehand. Should they do so, they can be sued for trespassing by their tenants. 

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4. Not Recording Existing Damages

If you want to secure your security deposit, be sure to document and record any damages or problems that existed before you moved into the apartment. Not taking photos when you first move in is a major mistake. Prior to unpacking your boxes, you should go through the unit with a checklist with the landlord. Make sure your landlord signs the documents and you get a copy of the completed move-in checklist.

If your landlord agrees to make repairs, get him or her sign and date the agreement before you sign the leasing. You must also specify any minor damages to your landlord with pictures proven before you move into the apartment. Let them know that these damages existed even before you move in. You can always use your phone to capture the images and the date of the photo taken will be recorded on your phone.

5. Not Checking Out the Neighborhood

Typical Australian suburb from above in autumn

Before the landlord agrees to rent to you, they probably run a background check to see your credit score. You should also exercise the same caution before signing the lease. Simply search your address and the landlord’s name on the Internet to dig up some useful information such as reviews of the property, the crime rate in the neighborhood, and the zoning violations.

Finally, make sure you get a sense of the neighborhood like how long is the commute time to your job as well as the local amenities so you can be confident the area fits your needs. If you want to know if it is a safe place to live, visit the area at different times of the day to check the area.

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