Just Some Stuff You Need to Know
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Rental leases are negotiable only before you sign them but you should always try to get the best deal that you can. Ask for a free month (or two!) when negotiating the lease, the landlord may meet you halfway, you will never know unless you ask. Also ask about roommates, pets, and any additional costs that might arise. It’s not necessary to pay a broker or an agency just for the privilege of looking through their files. The same listings are always available somewhere else for no charge. You can check an agency’s reputation by going to the Better Business Bureau’s website. The Board of Realtors (any state that sells property has one) will have records of any complaints filed against realtors and property managers. You can usually check online and it just takes a few minutes. Personal reviews can also be relevant here but are often left by irate former tenants who perhaps are only presenting one side of the situation, so take those with the proverbial grain of salt.
When you visit a potential rental dress appropriately. Make sure you are looking at the actual rental unit, not some ‘model’ unit that is for display only. Be very clear on what the move-in costs are and what your monthly costs will be. Will you have to pay for water, sewer, and trash removal? There is usually a security deposit required along with the first month’s rent, this is often referred to as ‘first and last’ or the first month’s rent plus another as the deposit. Some landlords will require a damage deposit as well, though that is not as common. If you have pets expect to pay a deposit per pet, if they accept pets at all. Several utility companies will ask for a security deposit as well, especially if it is your first time having an account with them. It’s not all bad, and you get a lot of this back – especially if you pay your bills, but it is better to know about all of these costs up front than to be surprised with them when first renting.
If you are subletting or renting a room from someone you know be aware that these costs all still exist, even if you are not required to sign for them so be reasonable about the rent you are willing to pay and understand why it needs to be paid on time.