For a lot of tenants, renting from a private landlord may seem easier than dealing with a realty or property management group. If you have bad credit, poor rental history or no history of renting, it may even feel like your only option. However, it can have its downsides. But, you an keep yourself protected by following these five must-know tips.
Perform a Thorough Walkthrough
When you first check out a new property, it is essential to check every nook and cranny -- literally. Take your time inspecting the house to ensure that there are no unwanted surprises in the future. If you find any problems in the property, communicate with the property manager to see if he or she is willing to fix them before you move-in.
Take Pictures Before You Move In
Before you start moving your belongings into a rental, take high quality pictures of every part of the house, including the outside. Place a timestamp on every picture to ensure that they represent the first day of your rental agreement. When you move out, you should repeat this process. This tip can protect you from unlawful deductions from your deposit by the landlord or property manager.
Create a List of Damages
In addition to taking pictures, you should also write all damages in list format in black ink. Ideally, you should create and print a document that has each damaged item along with a picture. When writing out damages, it is important to be as specific as possible. Include the exact location of the item as well as a highly descriptive account of its condition. For example, "Broken kitchen cupboard" is not as effective as "The bottom portion of the far-left cupboard above the stove is peeling and discolored." This list can protect your deposit if the rental manager attempts to claim that you were the source of the damages.
Get Everything in Writing
Verbal agreements are convenient, but have little to no legal standing. This is why it is important to get everything that may affect your stay at a rental in writing. If your property manager or landlord is willing to fix certain things in the home, have him or her write a letter stating the exact items that will be fixed as well as the dates they will be fixed on. In addition to this, he or she must also date and sign the letter and a witness should date and sign it as well.
Read the Lease Carefully
Lease terms can vary from landlord to landlord, which is why it is critical to read it carefully and ask questions as needed. If there are any sections on your lease that you do not agree with, do not sign it. Speak with your potential property manager first to see if you can work out an agreement and create a new lease. Make sure you have a trustworthy friend or family member present who is willing to sign as a witness. This can protect you in the future if any problems with or disagreements about the lease arise.
Renting from a private party has its ups and downs, but you can keep yourself protected by following these five tips. Avoid unwarranted deductions from your deposit and stressful disagreements with your landlord by incorporating them into your house hunt.