9 Renter Mistakes to Avoid

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Young woman renter packing up to move house
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Point2.

Renting your own place is often the first step on the real estate ladder. And, like with many first steps in life, mistakes can be made all too easily.

With that in mind, let’s look over nine common mistakes renters make so that you can avoid them!

1. Only Budgeting for the Rent

broke couple unhappy
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Anyone planning to rent would do well to draw up a budget first. But as a renter, you’ll have many more expenses besides the rent. Here are some of the most common upfront costs:

  • Security deposit
  • First and last month’s rent
  • Moving costs
  • Application fees (if applicable)
  • Furnishings (if needed)

Remember Ongoing Expenses

couple doing taxes
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Don’t forget ongoing expenses, such as:

  • Food
  • Laundry
  • Utilities (if they’re not included in the rent)
  • Parking (if applicable)
  • General maintenance, like snow removal.

2. Not Viewing in Advance

Apartment for rent sign in front of an apartment building
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In a hot market, it can seem as if all the best apartments disappear within minutes of being posted. As such, some renters decide to just go for it without seeing the place first.

Unfortunately, this can often lead to disappointment. By viewing an apartment first, you get a chance to see the state of the home as well as the neighborhood.

Also, make sure that the apartment you’re viewing is the one you’ll be moving into.

3. Not Reading or Understanding the Lease Agreement

Rental agreement with keys
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The lease agreement is a legally binding contract filled with terms, conditions, and the rules of your lease as set by your landlord.

Therefore, reading and understanding it is essential. Otherwise, you might inadvertently break the rules and could find yourself being evicted. If you need help, consult a professional.

4. Neglecting to Document Existing Damage

Water damage
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When you first move into an apartment, it’s essential to record any existing damage.

The best way is to take photos or a video highlighting the damage that was there when you moved in, ideally in the company of the landlord.

Sometimes the landlord may not be aware of the existing damage, and you might end up being blamed and charged for it.

5. Not Getting the Rental Agreement in Writing

Rental agreement with signature line
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When it comes to renting an apartment, a verbal agreement and a handshake simply aren’t enough.

You need to get the full terms and conditions of your lease down on paper in a legally-binding contract. Unfortunately, a verbal agreement can be broken anytime, leaving your rights as a renter completely unprotected.

6. Dismissing Renter’s Insurance

Worried woman reading a report
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Renter’s insurance protects your belongings, as well as yourself, in case of vandalism, theft or natural disasters during your lease.

It doesn’t cost that much but can save you thousands of dollars if something happens.

7. Not Vetting Roommates

Sad young woman after argument with husband
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Roommates can be a great way to cut the costs of your rental. But the wrong roommate can also make your life a nightmare.

If you decide to share your rental with a roommate, be sure to vet them as if you were hiring them for a job.

8. Breaking the Conditions of the Lease Agreement

Rental agreement
Bartolomiej Pietrzyk / Shutterstock.com

The biggest mistake many renters make is breaking the conditions of the lease agreement. This can take many forms, such as late or missed payments, sneaking pets into a no-pet apartment, or subletting without permission.

Remember, the lease agreement is legally binding. When you break the conditions, you can soon find yourself being fined or evicted.

9. Leaving It to the Last Minute

Exhausted young couple sit rest on sofa in living room near heap of cardboard boxes
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The sooner you start looking for a new rental, the better.

If you leave it to the last minute, you can often end up choosing an apartment out of desperation and, ultimately, something that isn’t right for you.

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