Avoiding Problems with Your Landlord – Tips for a New Tenant

Lease ContractRenting an apartment or even a house is such a common facet of modern life, it’s often completely forgotten that a lease is a form of contract.  Once you sign your name to a lease agreement, you take on certain responsibilities, as does your new landlord.  While the balance of power between a landlord and a tenant varies greatly from situation to situation and area to area, one thing is always true: The best way for a tenant to protect themselves is to take a few simple steps before they sign a lease.  Here’s three things you should always do before writing that security check in order to avoid problems with your landlord.

1.  Inspect the Property

Whether you’re renting a cheap studio in a shady part of town or an opulent home on the beach, the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to perform a thorough inspection of the space before you make any decisions.  Look for obvious signs of neglect: Unrepaired water damage can indicate a leaking roof or leaking plumbing, and that leak could someday destroy your possessions.

If you do detect repair or maintenance issues, contact your prospective landlord and get a commitment from them in writing that the repairs will be made prior to your occupancy.  Then, when moving day arrives, inspect the apartment again prior to moving in your possessions to ensure the work has been done as agreed.

2. Ask Other Tenants

The best way to find out who you’re about to be in business with is to ask those who already live there or nearby.  Other tenants of the same landlord can give you a clear idea of how reasonable and responsive the landlord is.  They can also alert you to any issues concerning abusive behavior or legal disputes between landlord and tenants, as well as the general state of maintenance and repair in the rented units.

3. Know The Law

It can’t hurt to have your lease reviewed by an experienced real estate professional or attorney to make sure you are adequately protected.  It’s also a good idea to investigate the local laws that apply to renters in your area – laws applying to leases and renter’s rights vary significantly, so don’t assume your prior experience is necessarily applicable.  Ignorance of the law, after all, is never an acceptable excuse in a courtroom.

These three steps will help make sure your rental experience is a positive one.

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