Perhaps you’re a first-time renter, or maybe it’s been a little while since you lived on your own. Moving is such a busy time in anyone’s life, and there are some very important things every renter should know. Read on to prepare yourself for life in your new apartment!
Research Your Neighborhood
It’s important to not be starry-eyed over a beautiful apartment or slick amenities. Every renter should know that researching your neighborhood is just as important as researching your potential apartment. An apartment may be inexpensive, but if there is a high rate of crime in the area, it could have an impact on the type of lifestyle you want to live. You don’t want your car or other valuables to be put at risk or stolen.
You can use a website like AreaVibes to check the “livability score” of an area where you are thinking about living. This site doesn’t list every city, but it does offer information for more than 35,000 cities and neighborhoods in the United States. It includes information about a number of factors including the cost of living, crime rate, education, and amenities, to name just a few.
If the apartment you’re thinking about renting isn’t brand new, there’s a good chance of finding some online reviews about the property. Online reviews are a great way to start to get a real picture of what life will be like where you want to rent. Remember to take online reviews with a grain of salt; oftentimes people are more likely to write a review if they are angry about something, rather than if they are very happy about something. But if you do see a similar complaint surfacing over and over again, it may be a legitimate grievance.
Every renter should know about the potential risks of living with roommates. Be very careful when selecting who you want to live with. You might think that living with good friends would be a no-brainer, but relationships often change when people live together. Your friend might be fun to go out with, but what if they’re terrible with money and can’t pay their rent on time? You might be stuck paying more than your fair share of the rent, and stuck in a lease for a year or more!
Likewise, finding a roommate on the internet is possible, and can work, but remember it is always a risk. Even if you meet a potential roommate before moving in with them, you never really know their true life story, or how they are going to act once you actually move in together. You can find a potential roommate on the internet, meet them in person, and vet them with questions, but once you move in together, you see their actual story unfold.
Unless you could somehow perform an extensive background check on an individual, you won’t be able to see certain potential red flags such as their credit history, arrest records or other issues that may negatively impact your experience living together. What if they get arrested and hauled off to prison? They won’t be able to pay their rent, and you will be left footing the bill for your entire apartment, which could be a potentially unmanageable financial burden.
Make sure that if you do decide to live with someone, you cover all of your bases. Although there is no way to be 100% guaranteed that the person you live with doesn’t wind up being a psycho, you can at least make sure that they sign the lease with you. That way, you are both legally on the hook for the cost of the apartment. Remember, if they can’t get financially approved by the apartment complex, you are taking a financial risk if you decide to move in with them anyway.
This is not to deter anyone from having roommates, because they can also potentially be great. You can’t live your life constantly living in fear or wondering “what if?” but it is also important to exercise caution. A good roommate relationship will have a solid foundation of open communication, respect, accountability, and financial responsibility.
Love thy neighbor
A good neighbor can also be a helpful ally. If you develop a friendly rapport with your neighbors, you can rely on them to help you out in certain situations. They can check and see if you have a package dropped off at your door, or let you know if they saw someone attempting to steal your car.
Just like a bad roommate, or a bad neighborhood, a bad neighbor can also have a heavy impact on your life. If you make a neighbor mad, they may act in a way to spite you such as cranking loud music when you are trying to sleep, or reporting you to the leasing office for nonsense. Try to be as respectful as possible with your neighbors–you do actually have to live in tandem together.
Mr. Rogers can’t accurately prepare you for the people in your neighborhood, but he can tell you how to treat them.
Don’t let lack of funds prevent you from your dream apartment
The long search is over and you’ve found the apartment of your dreams. You’ve done the tour, scoped the property amenities and scouted the neighborhood. There’s only one problem–you can’t afford the security deposit!
A lack of funds doesn’t have to prevent you from living in your dream home. Some rental properties incorporate the Renters SecurityPro program developed by Effective Coverage. This program allows you to move into your apartment for a fraction of the cost of the security deposit.
For example, if your dream apartment came with a security deposit price tag of $2,000, the Renters SecurityPro program would enable you to move in for only $350. Of course, you are still liable for any damages caused and rent owed, but if the only thing standing between you and your dream home is a hefty price tag, Renters SecurityPro can help to make your dreams a reality. Check to see if your dream apartment offers this program to help alleviate the burden of a hefty security deposit.
Inspect your apartment carefully upon move-in
Most apartments will give you a checklist and about 24-48 hours to thoroughly inspect your apartment for damage or issues before you move in. This may feel difficult to accomplish when your moving truck is running outside, but if you make the time to do this, it is well worth the effort. Once you move all of your items into your apartment, it will be much harder to see cracks in the wall, dents in the floor, or other damages that the apartment can charge you for when you move out.
If the apartment missed certain issues or damages after the last tenant moved out, it’s up to you to write them down and turn them into the leasing office to be repaired quickly. Maybe your bathroom light is broken, or your garbage disposal is clogged. Whatever the issue, you want to address it right away so you can make sure it’s not a problem for you later on down the road. You don’t want to be on the hook for damage that isn’t your fault!
Every renter should know that it’s also a good idea to take a picture of everything before you move in and after you move out. This is a great time to complete your home inventory for your renters insurance policy. Having a home inventory will enable you to be paid much more quickly in the event of a claim. We also wrote a step-by-step guide for how to complete your home inventory. Once you have taken your pictures, be sure to store them somewhere off-site, such as cloud storage. For bonus points, you could take a picture of every page of your lease and also store that in the cloud. This will come in handy if your only copy of your paper lease were to burn in an apartment fire, or you have a future dispute with your landlord.
Every renter should know that renters insurance is a must!
Every renter should know that renters insurance is not only a great idea–more and more property owners are requiring tenants to have a renters insurance policy in place before they move in. Most landlords have insurance policies to cover the physical building they own, but this does not offer the renter any protection.
If your apartment building were to burn down in a fire, you would have to replace all of your personal belongings yourself–computers, clothing, furniture, and everything else you own. Without a renters insurance policy, the cost to replace all of these items would come out of your own pocket. However, under your personal property coverage, these items would be replaced up to the dollar amount specified in your policy.
What if you were the one to burn down the apartment accidentally? Without a renters insurance policy, your landlord may come after you personally to cover the cost to repair the entire building! Luckily, your liability coverage will protect you if a claim is made against you for legal costs associated with bodily injury and property damage to others.
Not sure how much coverage you need, or have questions about what is or isn’t covered by your policy? Just call an insurance expert at (800)892-4308 or click to get covered - whether you need renters insurance quotes online or coverage anywhere else!
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