Mistakes to Avoid as a New Tenant

For many, renting their first apartment is a rite of passage.  It’s the first time you are on your own, and your opportunity to live just as you see fit. If you are a first time tenant, this is a thrilling time filled with new possibilities and experiences.  Make your new life as a tenant smooth by avoiding these common mistakes.

Mistakes to Avoid as a New Tenant

Choosing the Wrong Roommates

Choosing the right roommate isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Whether you plan to live with one or several roommates, you must choose wisely.  After all, you are going to live with them for the next year and you need to know you can count on them.  Keep in mind that your best friends are not always the best roommates.  You may love doing everything with them but you haven’t had to live with them.  If you consider living with your closest friends, take into account their reliability and trustworthiness.  Be honest to yourself as to whether they fulfill their responsibilities and whether they will pay the rent on time.  Also, find out whether they are clean.  If they don’t clean up after themselves now, don’t expect them to do so just because they live with you.  Bad habits start early, and this person is comfortable living with dirty dishes, sticky floors, and cockroaches in the cupboard. 

Decide whether a chaotic party lifestyle is right for you.  If you need peace and quiet most of the time, you may not enjoy a roommate who wants to hold raging parties at your place every week.  If your friend disregards rules like drugs or has a criminal record, you may find yourself in legal trouble with your landlord later on.

In order to pick the right roommates, you need to have boundaries.  Write down a list of acceptable and unacceptable traits to vet roommates.  This may or may not include your best friends, and you may need to consider finding a roommate online or through friends.  Set your boundaries now to maintain positive relationships with your friends and roommates.

 Being Too Eager

As a new tenant, it’s exciting to pursue new opportunities and envision the future of you or your friends in your new rental.  But don’t get too carried away.  Finding the right apartment doesn’t always happen overnight, and being too eager can make you overlook details.  One way to prevent this is to avoid looking last minute.  Prevent last minute pressure by looking at your options well ahead of time.  Generally, the best time to start looking is about a month before you move.  When you survey all your options, you have the opportunity to weigh the benefits of them all and make a well-informed decision. 

Not Taking the Walk through Seriously

Being too eager can also make you miss the flaws you would usually see in a walk through.  During a walk through, you need a discerning eye to inspect the premises from top to bottom.  You and your roommates need to check all of the amenities, the state of the floor and walls, and ask if there is anything the landlord plans to repair or replace upfront.  Landlords who offer property amenities tenants actually want tend to charge more; if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence and take a thorough look. Once you sign the document, you are legally bound to what you said, so if you miss something big it can cost you your deposit. 

Mistakes to Avoid as a New Tenant

Not Knowing Tenant/Landlord Laws

Becoming a tenant means that you take on a host of laws that are meant to protect both you and the landlord.  There are laws regarding rental and lease agreements, security deposits, maintenance, disputes, and eviction.  Both the landlord and the tenants have a list of rights that protect them.  Rights vary based on state and federal laws so use them as a resource in case you and the landlord have a dispute. 

Take note that once you sign the lease agreement, you are bound to its terms and conditions.  If you feel like you have been mistreated, look over your rental agreement and your rights.  Sometimes, landlords don’t know the law and they create lease agreements with illegal terms.  If this is the case, you have the right to seek legal action if you’ve been mistreated under these rules.  Laws can change every year, so keep up to date to protect yourself and your roommates. 

Follow these guidelines and you are sure to have a better experience during your lease.