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Five biggest mistakes renters make

Here are some costly mistakes to avoid when renting:

Signing a lease without reading it carefully. No matter how frenzied the market, don’t rush into a rental agreement if something doesn’t feel right. For example, does the fine print stipulate that you have to pay extra for utilities, water or parking, or were those costs sold as “included”? To ensure the lease doesn’t violate your tenant rights, check out the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website, which provides a state-by-state list of what’s legal.

Signing a lease that doesn’t fit your life. Think you might want to sublet in the future? Do you have pets or frequent visitors? Think about your lifestyle and what you need in a rental. Some leases will charge you extra for guests who stay more than two days, forbid subletting or make the cost of repairs your responsibility, including problems that pre-date the term of the lease.



Not taking pictures when you move in. Almost everyone has a digital camera or cellphone these days. You should use yours to document the state of the property before you move in. You’ll also want to note pre-existing damage on the landlord’s move-in checklist. If the landlord doesn’t have one, make your own list and send it to the landlord, signed and dated. And before signing a lease, get in writing any major repairs the landlord has promised to make.

Not checking out the neighborhood. If you’re serious about a rental, knock on the doors of a few neighbors to ask about the building’s upkeep and neighborhood safety. You also can check into crime patterns with the local police department or on websites like CrimeReports.




Not getting renters insurance. A landlord’s insurance policy doesn’t cover the tenant’s personal property. So if there’s a flood or fire and your valuables are damaged, you’re usually responsible for the costs unless the landlord was aware that a dangerous condition existed and failed to correct it. After you sign the lease, make getting a renters policy the first item on your to-do list.

— Courtesy The Fiscal Times


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