Renting can be both exciting and overwhelming, so it's important to know your rights as a renter. To help you out, we've listed 10 things every renter should know when leasing a home.
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A lease is a legal and binding contract between you and your Landlord. It's a document that outlines you and your Landlord's obligations to each other---duration of the agreement, terms of payment, and your responsibility as a renter, to name a few.
Renter's leases tell you, in black and white, what you can and can't do while you're in the apartment or home you're renting. The same contract also keeps your Landlord accountable for their responsibilities to you.
While you can expect lease agreements to have lots of pages, don't just glance at them. Make sure to read and understand each point before signing the dotted line.
If you have questions about specific stipulations or want to negotiate some terms, talk to your Landlord about them before affixing your signature. Remember, once your lease is signed, all the conditions are final and non-negotiable.
Remember how we said that renting terms are final once you sign your lease? Well, your rental price is one of those agreements stipulated in your contract. As such, your rent stays as-is for the duration of the deal once you and your Landlord sign it.
What this means is your Landlord can't just raise rental prices and expect you to pay. Again, the lease reigns supreme, so whatever amount was indicated on the contract is what you'll be paying.
It's only when the contract expires when your Landlord can change rental prices. Otherwise, you're obligated to only pay what's indicated in the lease agreement.
You might think that since the Landlord technically owns the property, they automatically have a free pass to enter your apartment or home.
The fact is that your Landlord can't just show up to your home unannounced and uninvited. You have a right to privacy, so your Landlord has to have your permission before entering your home.
Unless you're actually friends with your Landlord and invite over them for dinner, the only time your Landlord can enter your home is during grave emergencies. Even then, they'll have to notify you at least before actually coming.
Make sure to read your lease agreement to understand what situations allow your Landlord to enter your home.
Your lease agreement is only suitable for a certain amount of time. It can range from something as short as a few months to several years, but every lease has an endpoint.
As soon as your contract reaches its end, you can leave. Your Landlord can't force you to renew your lease or stay for an additional amount of time. Nothing is keeping you from leaving, so if you want to go---go!
Just as your Landlord can't hike up rent prices on a whim, they also can't kick you out just because they feel like doing so. Since you signed the lease, you're entitled to stay in the property for the entire duration of the contract.
Your Landlord has to have a very good reason for asking you to leave. Suspicious, delinquent, or criminal activity are likely the only valid reasons. Still, specific grounds are definitely written in your lease agreement.
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Fixing your building's age-old pipes or electrical wires isn't your responsibility. You can't be forced to shell out some cash to help with fixing the plumbing they've missed maintaining.
Structural damages are your Landlord's responsibility. These kinds of damages could include:
This doesn't exempt you from being responsible for some home repairs. The trick is to make sure your lease has an expense cap for how much you're required to pay the Landlord for certain repairs. This way, you won't be fooled into paying for a repair you're not entirely liable for.
Yes, your Landlord is responsible for taking care of structural damages, but that doesn't exempt you from overall home maintenance.
Things like making sure you segregate your garbage, clean your home or apartment, or switching out faulty light bulbs are things you should handle.
When your lease comes to an end, your Landlord should be able to return your entire security deposit. If you completed your lease duration without any damages to the property, there's no reason why your deposit shouldn't be given back to you.
There are, however, two main reasons your deposit won't make it's way back to you. It's either you broke your lease agreement or completely damaged the rented property.
If your Landlord doesn't give it back in its entirety, you should be given an itemized list of expenses your deposit was used to pay for. With this list, you can check which damages you are accountable for in line with what was stated in your lease agreement.
Your state likely has a handbook that lists down your rights as a renter. The handbook will inform you of the services you can avail of when issues during your tenancy arise.
You need to know your rights as a renter, especially if it's your first time. This way, you learn everything about renting and how you can hold your Landlord accountable when things go wrong.
Keep in mind that most landlords are like you---ordinary people who are looking to make a decent wage but with their rental property. Even if your relationship with the Landlord isn't always smooth-sailing, this isn't enough of a reason to miss your rent payments.
The point is you entering a lease agreement obligates you to pay rent in full and on time. Don't give your Landlord any reason to dislike you by reneging on your payments.
Renting your very first apartment or home is a great achievement. It's considered by many as the first step to adulthood and independence. As exciting as it may be, renting for the first time can also be quite scary. We hope that reading the 10 tips above can help you get started during this exciting time.
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