We all know that there is entirely too much paperwork involved in moving. It’s unfortunate, but a fact of life. Some of that paperwork will smooth out your day to day life, or help with recovering after a crisis.
Ten Documents You Can’t Afford To Be Without In Your New Apartment
Documents may not seem all that important to you. They’re replaceable, right? Not always easily, and not always quickly! Without these items, you could be looking at significant legal or financial struggles, or worse!
Every one of these documents is just as important as making sure that you have renters insurance. Whether you need Colorado Renters Insurance or a policy in PA, you also need these documents!
What are the ten documents you must have in your new apartment? Some of them might surprise you!
#1 Proof Of Your Apartment Walkthrough
Josh Rosenthal of MoveIn.space tells us that a copy of your apartment walkthrough is absolutely one of the ten documents every apartment dweller should have on hand. The landlord probably has a check sheet, but you should take pictures as well.
Proving “it was like that at move-in” saves landlords and tenants from major headaches. It also helps insurance companies in case of loss. These reasons are why I founded MoveIn.space – a super-simple means of documenting walkthrough inspections.
The service has launched and you can sign up for MoveIn.space here right now! It’s quick and painless to use, just log in with your existing Google account and start making notes and adding pictures of the condition of your apartment. Once you’re done, copies of the walkthrough can be sent to both you and the landlord by email.
Just having a list of things that are broken or missing isn’t enough. If there’s a dispute between you and your landlord and it ends up in court, you’ll want those pictures to prove the condition of the apartment when you moved into it!
#2 Do You Know What You Have? A Home Inventory Could Save Your Claim!
Just having renters insurance is a good start. But the worst possible time for you to try to list everything you own is right after a significant loss. Once you’ve escaped the fire and you know that the people close to you are safe, it becomes an emotional time. There is much for you to do to start rebuilding your life, and the distractions don’t help you make that list, either.
Valerie Rind, author of Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin, pointed out the importance.
It’s not enough to have renters insurance. Check every room of your apartment and make a comprehensive list of everything you own. If you make an insurance claim for stolen or destroyed possessions, you’ll have a better chance of getting reimbursement!
She went on to add that this is particularly true for “your more valuable items, like electronics, jewelry and appliances. [You should] list details like model number, date of purchase, [serial number, and] price paid. Keep receipts, include every last thing.”
Valerie is quite right, a renters insurance home inventory is an imperative part of having renters insurance. The list you make after a loss is likely to be incomplete, and you claim will run much more smoothly if you have a good list. In addition, you should store the list off-site somewhere.
Whether that’s a Google spreadsheet or a purpose-built site like KnowYourStuff.org is up to you, as long as the information is somewhere that’s not subject to a loss from the same cause!
#3 Can You Prove Who You Are?
If there’s a fire, you could be left with no documents at all! That makes it incredibly difficult to prove who you are to anyone. You generally need a license or other ID to check into a hotel, even. That’s why you need a fireproof safe. It should, at minimum, contain birth certificates for you, your spouse, and your children as well as your social security cards.
If you’re currently carrying around you social security card in your wallet, that’s a bad idea. Put it in the fireproof file box or safe. It’s more secure there, and you don’t want to give your social security number to someone who steals your wallet! That’s like telling them “Use my credit cards, and while you’re at it call the bank and pretend to be me… And ask for an increased credit limit!”
There are a number of other documents that belong in your home in fireproof storage of some kind, as well. Marriage and divorce records are helpful, for example – not only in proving your identity, but also helpful to prove that you have the right to pick your kids up from school and in other situations.
#4 What Are The Terms Of Your Lease? Are You Sure?
Are you certain that you’ve memorized every provision of your lease? Even if you are, that doesn’t help you if you find yourself in the position of proving that there’s no provision limiting the consecutive number of nights a guest can stay, for instance. You’ll need a copy of the lease to prove it if the landlord thinks the guest has stayed too long.
The landlord is unlikely to provide a copy of the lease to you when you need it most, certainly not in an efficient manner. That’s why it should be in that fireproof storage, just like other documents. Speaking of fireproof storage, what happens to the lease if the building is destroyed or repairs will take more than a certain amount of time?
Do you still owe rent? This is especially important in some cities with rent control. If you have a lease and can prove it, you may be entitled to come back no matter how long repairs take! But the only way to prove it is to have the lease in your hand.
#5 Have You Memorized Your Renters Insurance Policy Number?
What about your agent’s phone number, or the claims number? All of these things are on your policy, and that’s why the policy should be stored with the rest of the documents. You’ll need information from the policy to make the claims process easier.
Having a copy of your renters insurance policy as one of the ten documents also helps if you have a question about coverage. You can refer to the policy to determine what it says about that particular situation. Is there an exclusion for fires started by rodents chewing through wires? Probably not, but the only way to know that is to have the policy available to review!
#6 Who Owns That Car Outside?
Car titles are another one of the ten documents you can’t afford to be without in your new apartment. They’re crucial to proving ownership, of course. Unfortunately some fires and other losses can result in significant damage to your car that might make it unrecognizable. Having the title means you have the VIN, which makes it easy to identify the vehicle for the insurance company.
In addition, sometimes people decide to make major life changes quickly. Your title shouldn’t be in the car, of course, but if you want to sell or trade the vehicle, you’ll need it to be easily accessible. At home in your fireproof safe, lockbox, or file box is the appropriate place for it.
#7 How Can You Reach Your Doctors?
On your fridge is a good place for a list of phone numbers. This should include doctors for anyone in the household, as well as pharmacies that you use. A list of medications isn’t a bad idea, either. This isn’t just for your convenience. If something happens and first responders have to get you to a hospital quickly, that information can be life saving. They don’t have time to dig through your medicine cabinet to see what you take, or to try to find that doctor’s phone number.
Like most of the documents on this list, this is information that you absolutely should have on your person or in your home. Anything that can save minutes in an emergency is a good idea.
#8 What Will You Do?
More correctly, what will your heirs do? You need to have a will, and it needs to be someplace that your heirs can find it. Nobody actually likes to think about this sort of thing, but everyone should think about it. Your will determines not only what happens to your money, but who deals with it all after you’re gone.
Your will is one of the ten documents your apartment needs because it also determines what happens to any children you have. That’s why it needs to be easy to find and secure from loss.
By the same token, you’ll also want a living will. If you’re in a car accident and not expected to recover, how long do you want to be on life support? More questions no one wants to think about, but everyone should.
#9 Prove It!
In the same fireproof box, you should also have proof of residents, proof of legal presence (remember the birth certificate you put in there?) and proof of who you are along with proof of social security number. You’ll need all of these things to replace your license or ID if it’s stolen or lost in a fire.
The rules vary widely by state as to what exactly might be acceptable, but in general if you’ve covered those bases, you’ll probably be just fine. This is an unfortunate and annoying, yet necessary, part of recovering after a theft or a fire.
#10 Pay Me!
The last of the ten documents you can’t afford to be without in your new apartment is pay stubs. If all of your other documents are gone, pay stubs will be necessary for credit. They might contain your social security number as well as HR contact information so you can call out of work to deal with the fact that you just had a loss.
On top of those, what other documents can you think of that should be in every apartment? Make sure they’re part of your secure stash of documents. Being organized will help ensure that you can recover efficiently after a loss and get back to your life. The other thing that helps, of course, is Renters Insurance.
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