Renting a property, whether an apartment, condominium, or house comes with a list of responsibilities that may not always be as clear as you would think. Sure, it’s fun to decorate and hang pictures, but do your landlords have rules on that? Assume nothing when living in someone else’s dwelling and ask everything! Outlined below are some key questions that any renter should have answered before they step foot in their new property.
1)How About Insurance?-Insurance is a huge necessity in renting. Most dwelling owners will have coverage on their property to protect it from fire, wind, or theft. However, the items inside the property, as in your items are NOT covered on the owner’s policy. Before you move in, you should call your local insurance office, usually whomever you have car insurance through, and get a renter’s policy. A renter’s policy will protect all of your personal belongings, such as furniture, jewelry, tvs and even clothes. You need to speak with your agent and give them an accurate list of everything that you personally own to make sure that your property is well protected and for the correct amount.
2)What about Safety Issues?-Before you move into any rental property, you should make sure that it is physically safe for you to live there. The most important thing to check for is a hard wired smoke alarm. You want to make sure it is installed properly and has working batteries. Also you want to ensure that there is at least one fire extinguisher in the kitchen and a spare in an adjacent room in the house. If the house has gas, make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector. If there isn’t one in the house already, they are readily available at your local hardware store.
3-Can I have Pets?-Never assume that Fluffy is allowed wherever you go. Most rental properties have restriction on pets of all kinds. If they do allow dogs, there is usually a weight and size and even a breed restriction. Some breeds are considered dangerous and if you own that particular breed, even if they have never hurt anyone, they may not be allowed to live there. Some places do not allow any pets including cats, guinea pigs, or even hamsters. You should always speak with your landlord before you attempt to take any pets with you or before you purchase a pet for your new rental.
4-Am I responsible for Painting and Repairs?-This is something that should be established upon the very first walk through of the property. Of course most people would like to hang pictures or a mirror, but do you have the owner’s permission? And, if you do hang something on the wall and you later move out of the property, are you responsible for patching and painting the walls? Most landlords will have clear guidelines as to what is and isn’t allowed on the walls. If not, get it in writing on your lease, so at the end of your lease you are not suddenly responsible for something you didn’t anticipate, or worse yet, they use your security deposit to make those repairs!
5-What kind of Outside Maintenance am I responsible for?-This is particularly important when renting a property other than an apartment in an apartment complex. If you are renting a house, condo, or townhouse, you need to know if you are responsible for cutting the grass, trimming the hedges or even shoveling snow. You need to, once again, get in writing what your responsibility is for any outside maintenance. It is also a good idea to make sure you are aware of your trash and recycling days and the appropriate bins you will need to dispose of either also.
Renting a new place can be an exciting time in anyone’s life, but you want to always make sure you take the necessary precautions and learn your facts before jumping in. Remember to get everything in writing on your lease and have someone review the lease with you before signing. Protect yourself and your belongings and take all necessary safety precautions to ensure yourself a safe, happy place to live. Happy renting!