7 Ways to Show Proof of Renters Insurance to Your Landlord

No one wants to have an apartment break-in happen to them or lose their personal belongings to an unexpected tornado but sometimes life happens. When the unexpected occurs, everyone wants financial coverage and know that they have a backup plan or safeguard in place.

That’s where renters insurance comes in. While property owners will have insurance policies covering the apartment complex and building in place, it’s often up to the tenants to provide their own renters insurance where the policy covers personal belongings. In fact, most landlords are requiring proof of renters insurance to rent their property before signing the lease.

We’ll help you understand the fundamentals of a basic tenant insurance policy and provide ideas on how to show proof of renters insurance if your landlords require it.

What is a renters insurance policy?

Simply put, insurance is protection against financial loss. Renters insurance is a type of insurance policy that’s specific to tenants and renters only. Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance does not usually cover the structure of the building, but it does cover the renter’s personal property that’s housed inside the apartment.

Renters insurance exists to protect you and your personal belongings should an incident — like theft or fire — occur while you rent. The insurance policy would then pay you for the damage caused to your belongings. Renters insurance also protects renters from liability in case someone gets hurt within your apartment.

Renters insurance covers property from a burglary

Why every renter needs renters insurance coverage

Landlords are requiring tenants to provide proof of renters insurance. This helps safeguard property managers from liability, but it also protects renters. People who have renters insurance can breathe easy knowing it protects their personal property. Here are a few reasons you need to purchase renters insurance:

  • Offers protection of your personal items from theft or natural disasters
  • Covers you from personal liability if someone is hurt within your apartment
  • Often required to sign a new lease
  • Sometimes required for lease renewal
  • Can save you money should something happen to your personal belongings
  • Provides peace of mind to tenants
  • Helps expedite the rental process and avoid waiting periods if you already have a policy

Regardless of the reason you purchase renters insurance, it’s smart to have it when you live in a rental unit.

What exactly does renters insurance cover?

We’ve talked about the benefits of having renters insurance, but what exactly does renters insurance cover? Your coverage will vary based on your insurance company and policy, but in most cases, renters insurance policies offer these types of coverage:

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage includes repairs or replacements for lost or damaged property, such as furniture, electronics and clothing. Depending on the policy, it may cover the costs of things like jewelry, but you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to see how much coverage comes with your plan.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects the tenant in case an injury occurs to someone within the apartment and needs medical attention. There’s often a cap on how much liability coverage there is, so read your policy carefully.

Renters insurance will cover a hotel room if you

Additional living expenses coverage

Additional living expenses coverage includes the cost of hotel or travel bills should your apartment become unlivable due to an incident that occurs on-site. This part of a policy will not cover property damage to the building itself — that’s usually the landlord’s responsibility — but it will cover your hotel bills while you find a new place to rent.

You’ll likely have increased premiums when you purchase more coverage and it’s up to you to determine how much renters insurance you need and how much coverage your landlord requires. Do your research to select the best policy for you.

How to show proof of renters insurance to your landlord

We’ve mentioned that landlords require proof of insurance to rent a rental property. But how do you show proof of renters insurance to a landlord? Here are several ways to show proof of renters insurance.

1. Provide the declarations page to your landlord

Every renters insurance policy will have a declarations page that outlines the details of your coverage. The declarations page will include things like your name, the policy number and how much coverage you purchased. You can send a digital copy directly to property management as proof.

Send a digital copy to your landlord.

2. Share a digital file with the landlord

You can show digital proof of your insurance by emailing the landlord a copy of the entire policy or the declarations page itself. When you send electronic proof, you have a digital footprint that shows your communication with the landlord. You can even ask your landlord to store this electronic copy on their property management software so you have a record of it.

3. Show them the physical copy of the renters insurance policy

If you’re more old-school, you can print out a physical copy of the policy as a way of showing proof of coverage. Print out a copy for your records and print out a second copy for the landlord to have, as well.

4. Have your insurance agent contact your landlord to confirm

If your landlord will accept verbal confirmation, you can ask the insurance company to call the landlord directly to show proof of insurance. Let your landlord know when your insurance agent will contact them so they can prepare for the call.

5. Add the landlord as an interested party to the policy

On any insurance policy, you can add an interested party to the policy. This is one way to show proof that the tenant has insurance. When the insurance agent is writing the policy, they will add the landlord as an interested party and then, notify the landlord upon completion of the policy.

6. Share the policy number and insurance agency with your landlord

Another way to show proof when renting is to share details of the policy with your landlord. You can share things like the number of the policy, the name of the insurance company and agent or the amount of coverage purchased.

Simply tell your landlord you have renters insurance.

7. Give verbal assurances of your renters insurance policy

Depending on the property managers, you can show proof by giving verbal confirmation of coverage. While this is only as good as your word, some landlords are OK with this type of proof. Keep in mind that there’s often no digital or written record of verbal assurances, so it’s not the most concrete or secure way to show proof of renters insurance.

These are some of the most common and accurate ways to show proof of coverage when property owners require proof.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and ranges from $15 to $20 a month, or $180 to $220 per year. The cost of the policy will depend on how much coverage you purchase. Some landlords will even require that you have a certain amount of coverage, but that varies by location, by the landlord and even by state. When you’re analyzing your budget, it’s important to include renters insurance with your other utilities.

Keep in mind that most policies renew annually and if you don’t automatically renew your policy lapses and you may temporarily lose coverage. You also need to pencil in the cost of compensation for the agent, if they charge a fee to draft a policy.

Signing the renters insurance policy.

How to get a renters insurance policy of your own

If you’re trying to rent an apartment and can’t sign the lease until you have proof of renters insurance, then it’s time to find a policy for you. There are ways to find an insurance agency who you get you set up:

  • Ask your new landlord for a recommendation
  • Use your existing insurance agency and bundle it with your car insurance, for example, to save money
  • Use an online comparison tool to find an insurance company
  • Do an online search to find an insurance agency
  • Ask your neighbors who they use
  • Go to your local insurance broker

Proof of renters insurance is key

Once your policy is in place, you’ll be happy to know that you can then sign the lease, move into your new apartment and feel secure knowing you’re protected from the unexpected.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Can You Back Out of a Lease Before Moving In?

You may face penalties and even end up in court if you break a lease before moving in.

It’s exciting to find an affordable apartment located in your ideal neighborhood. But, because life is unpredictable, situations arise that can alter even the most solid plans. You’ll want to know, “Can I cancel a lease before it starts and how long after signing a lease can I back out?”

Breaking a lease

When you sign a lease agreement, you have entered into a binding contract. That means that as a tenant, you have agreed to fulfill certain duties and obligations. Among them is to pay rent on time.

By signing the lease, the landlord also agrees to specific responsibilities. For example, the landlord must make the rented space habitable and furnished with heat.

Not occupying a rental after signing the lease is not, in and of itself, considered a breach of contract. However, not paying rent because you did not move in is.

Early termination

When a landlord or tenant fails to fulfill the responsibilities and obligations they accepted by signing the lease agreement, early termination of the contract occurs. Any scenario that leads to the terms of the lease going unfulfilled can escalate to an early termination situation.

As soon as you learn you can’t move into your apartment, review your lease to check your options.

Letter

Letter

What is an early termination letter?

An early termination letter is a written request from a tenant to end the lease sooner than agreed. A landlord does not have to OK the request. However, they do have to make reasonable efforts to get the apartment re-rented as soon as possible.

If the landlord accepts the reason you’re seeking an early end to your lease, they may agree.

If nothing else, sending such a document proves you gave the landlord notice of your intention not to occupy the premises. It’s important to keep a paper trail of your attempts to help the landlord mitigate the losses they may incur due to your early termination.

Contents of an early termination letter

A letter to terminate a lease early should contain specific information, including details as to why you’re seeking the unexpected termination of the rental contract:

  • The tenant’s name
  • Updated contact information
  • The address the tenant is vacating
  • The date you’ll terminate the lease
  • The reason for ending the lease early
  • A summary of the penalties and fees you acknowledge caused by ending the lease earlier than originally agreed
  • Information as to how to return the apartment’s keys, garage opener, etc.
  • The tenant’s forwarding address
  • The current date
  • The tenant’s signature

The date of the letter is important. If, for example, a would-be tenant signed an apartment lease in January with a move-in date of June but then sent a letter of early termination to the landlord in February, it could be argued they had plenty of time to find a replacement tenant. That could reduce the fees or other penalties the would-be resident might be required to pay for not fulfilling the lease terms.

Potential penalties

A person can’t just walk away from a signed and legally binding rental agreement without expecting to incur fees or penalties.

For example, if the signed lease contained an early termination provision requiring a tenant breaking the agreement early to pay a penalty of two months’ rent, that must occur to cancel it.

credit score

credit score

Impact on your credit score

Negative information on your credit report stemming from ending your lease early could impact your credit score. The good news is that not every landlord reports early terminations to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S.

If you secured utility services for the abode, it’s your responsibility to notify them of your change in circumstances. If not, you could be facing hefty bills for utilities you never used.

Meanwhile, many utility companies report late or missed payments to credit reporting agencies. That hurts a credit score.

Exceptions to every rule

Laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship vary by state. But many jurisdictions permit early termination in specific situations, including:

  • If the landlord did not maintain the property in a habitable condition, as defined state-by-state
  • Your inability to experience the quiet enjoyment of your home due to the unreasonable behavior of the landlord, other tenants, their guests or some other reason. The interferences must occur over a period of time, not just once.
  • Being called up for active military duty after signing the lease but before entering the military. If you signed the agreement after joining the service, the lease might be ended early if the deployment orders are for 90 days or longer or permanently alter your station.
  • You experience harassment or are in danger by remaining in the rental. In many states, victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, among other crimes, allow you to terminate a lease early.
  • When a lease includes an early termination provision, you must meet its conditions for the agreement to end early

U.S. Courthouse

U.S. Courthouse

See you in court?

Unless the tenant has a legally justifiable reason for ending a lease early, a landlord can sue for past due rent and other losses caused by the improper termination. If the landlord receives a judgment, they can garnish your wages or bank accounts to get paid. The judgment would also be noted on your credit report, and that’s a huge ding.

Moving on

Sometimes, life’s unpredictability causes situations that can cost people dearly, financially and otherwise. Reading and understanding your lease before signing it can go a long way towards mitigating any damages that result from an early end to a lease agreement.

Source: rent.com

What Does Income-Restricted Housing Mean?

Each state works with the federal government to provide affordable housing to renters with limited incomes.

There are nearly 1 million income-restricted apartments and rental homes in the United States. That translates into the federal government spending more than $51 billion annually to assist low-income Americans to have a roof over their head.

Different types of income-based apartments comprise the affordable rental housing landscape. Some are government-owned apartments. And private landlords who underwent an extensive screening process to gain acceptance into the subsidized housing hold others.

What is income-restricted housing?

Income-restricted housing is also known as affordable housing or public housing. The U.S. government established income-restricted apartments as The Great Depression of the 1930s destroyed the worldwide economy. Industrial output plummeted, unemployment soared and families became destitute.

Affordable housing became scarce as the economy worsened. The federal response initially began as the Public Housing Administration. In 1965, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came about from five existing agencies.

Congress in session

Congress in session

Congress takes action on income-restricted apartments

With economic devastation plaguing Americans following The Great Depression, Congress passed the Affordable Housing Act in 1937. That statute implemented several measures to help develop new and rental housing across the country.  It did so while also subsidizing the rental costs of income-restricted tenants. That program allows private property owners, in addition to government-owned apartments, to offer subsidized housing for low-income families.

Around the same time, Section 8 housing started under the Section 8 Housing Act of 1937.

What is Section 8 housing?

Section 8 is the informal name of the Federal Housing Choice Vouchers Program. The federal government continues to oversee this housing voucher offer.

Participants in the program find their own housing and pay rent with a ‘housing choice voucher.’

How do you apply for Section 8 benefits?

Applying for the Federal Housing Choice Voucher Program is simple. The first step is to contact your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). They will help determine your eligibility. After that, you must complete an application seeking information about total household income, family size, assets and debts, for starters. A criminal background check is also required of applicants.

Keep in mind that in some areas, the waiting list to receive Section 8 benefits, including subsidized housing, is extremely long. For this reason, it’s best to start the process sooner rather than later.

Section 8 housing

Section 8 housing

What makes you eligible for Section 8 assistance?

You might be wondering if you’re eligible for Section 8. While the PHA will be able to tell you for sure, there are a couple of factors that play into eligibility for Section 8 that you can consider ahead of time. You must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Make no more than 80 percent of your area’s median income
  • Must have not been evicted in the past 3 years for drug-related criminal activity

Not all rentals can become Section 8 housing

Not all property owners want to make their rentals available to Section 8 tenants. However, some states or municipalities have guidelines requiring property owners to accept tenants with government housing vouchers. But that’s not the standard nationwide.

Property owners who wish to have their apartment complexes considered for Section 8 housing should consult the Section 8 Program guide.

Types of public housing

While their names are similar, there are two distinctly different flavors of affordable housing in the U.S. One commonality between them is they both involve government-subsidized living.

Income-restricted housing

In income-restricted housing, rent prices are set on the median income for the local area. The government then caps rental fees at a certain percentage of that figure. That price fluctuates based on state law and the apartment’s size.

Income-based housing

Meanwhile, rent prices for income-based apartments are based on the tenant’s adjusted gross income. That comes with rent capped at 30 percent of that figure. Unlike income-restricted housing, the rental price of income-based apartments has no connection to the area’s average income levels.

States play a key role in affordable housing

Even though HUD oversees affordable housing at the federal level, the state level sets the barometer for median income levels.

That’s because average income levels vary wildly from state to state, and even from county to county. It would be incredibly unfair if average monthly rent prices were just as high in poorer states or counties as they are in wealthier areas.

HUD calculates the median income levels for each metropolitan area within the United States on an annual basis. Once they get that figure, HUD details the maximum income a person may earn to qualify for government subsidies.

Section 8 high-rise

Section 8 high-rise

What are income-based housing limits?

HUD rates a renter’s income eligibility for government subsidies by basing it on area median income (AMI). The thresholds used by HUD to determine housing voucher eligibility are:

  • 30% AMI: Considered extremely low income and are given priority for housing vouchers
  • 50% AMI: Considered very low income and are eligible for housing vouchers
  • 80% AMI: Considered low income and are often on waiting lists for housing vouchers

In general, the lower a tenant’s income, meaning the lower their AMI, the higher priority their application for subsidized housing is given.

Role of the local public housing authority

HUD implements its subsidized housing program on the state level through a local public housing authority (PHA).

There are PHA offices in many cities across the United States. To find the one that serves your area, check the Official Housing Authority.

The PHA is an extremely important player in the low-income housing landscape because it administers both the state and federal guidelines to receive government subsidies.

Determining eligibility for public housing

The local housing authority determines a tenant’s eligibility for income-based programs.

Considerations include:

  • Annual gross income
  • Whether an applicant qualifies as elderly, disabled or a low-income family
  • U.S. citizen or eligible immigration status

Since income limits vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and sometimes, even city-to-city, be sure to check HUD’s correct income graph for the county, size of family and AMI of the applicant.

How to apply for income-restricted apartments

In order to apply for an income-restricted apartment, low-income renters should contact their local PHA. One way to find them is to check the HUD Field Office website.

The application process is slow and tedious, so don’t expect anything to happen quickly. In addition to the usual governmental bureaucracy, the demand for income-restricted apartments has increased markedly, making competition fierce and wait times far longer.

Applying for affordable housing isn’t an easy task. There’s also huge unmet demand for affordable units than there is the supply of subsidized housing. Many applicants spend years on the waiting list before receiving government assistance, which patience is imperative.

Eligibility requirements

Required information for income-restricted subsidized public housing includes:

  • Names of all persons who would be living in the unit, including their gender, date of birth and relationship to the family’s head of household
  • The applicant’s current address and telephone number
  • The family’s specific circumstances, such as whether the applicant is a veteran or currently living in sub-standard housing qualify the applicant for special eligibility consideration
  • The members of the household are all U.S. citizens or eligible immigrants
  • An estimate of your family’s anticipated maximum income for the next 12 months and the sources of that income
  • Names and addresses of employers, banks or any other information the HA requests to verify your qualifications for subsidized housing
  • Eviction for criminal activity: The members of the household can’t have an eviction from public housing or Section 8 for drug-related criminal activity in the three years prior

Filling out an application

Filling out an application

Providing documentation

The applicant must provide all the information requested in the application in order to qualify for an income-restricted apartment. In addition to the documentation you provide, the PHA may also contact your employer or other people they believe can verify or dispute your claims as to why you qualify for government housing.

Next steps

If the low-income applicant meets the eligibility requirements to receive government subsidies, their next step is to submit a written application for a housing order.

Assuming all the information submitted in the application checks out, the tenant must then partake in an in-person interview with a Housing Authority representative.

Wait times vary

Wait times for that in-person meeting vary state to state and even from one jurisdiction to another. The waiting list also prioritizes applicants with greater need. So, it’s advisable to contact the PHA to determine where you are on the waiting list. You can do so by calling the HA or checking online to see if they provide that information.

Along the way, be certain to maintain all your application materials organized and handy. You never know when you might hear from your PHA.

Written notice

A public assistance applicant will receive a written notice to verify if they received acceptance or were denied government housing assistance. Once an applicant qualifies, their name goes on a waiting list for housing.

There are rare circumstances when a PHA can help an applicant immediately. But normally, they get on the waitlist if they’re eligible for government assistance.

Home sweet home

The more specific housing needs a low-income family has for their apartment, the longer it will likely take for such a place to become available. Unfortunately, the public housing system in the United States is overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants and the lack of sufficient housing units to provide them to all those in need.

Therefore, the best a person can do is apply, sit and wait.

Source: rent.com

A Complete Renter’s Guide To Understanding Your Apartment Lease Agreement

Here’s an overview of the types of lease agreements and important terms to understand before signing on the dotted line.

Renting your first place with a roommate or paying rent on your own for the first time means you need to submit a rental application to rent a residential property. Once a landlord accepts your rental application, you’ll review and sign an apartment lease agreement.

Understanding the terms of a rental lease agreement is important for both the landlord and tenant. Legally binding contracts are not something a property owner or property management company takes lightly.

It’s important for both the tenant and property manager to understand what’s included in an apartment lease agreement before it’s signed.

The lease agreement also protects both parties since the terms can’t change once it gets signed. The landlord can’t change the monthly rent amount or add a pet fee if the lease doesn’t include a pet policy.

What is a rental lease agreement?

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant for a particular piece of real estate. It outlines the rules agreed upon by both the landlord and the tenant in clear lease terms. The lease agreement includes important details, including the type of real estate, monthly rent amount and the lease term.

A security deposit is part of lease agreements, even in a month-to-month lease agreement. Sometimes, house rules include a pet policy not allowing pets or no smoking allowed in the unit or on the real estate property. These house rules should be in the lease agreement so there are no misunderstandings.

Verbal agreements are difficult to enforce. Anything discussed should be in the final rental or lease agreement. A verbal agreement is useless if one of the parties forgets what they said or flat out denies it.

If a landlord doesn’t offer aan apartment lease agreement, a tenant could ask for one.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Types of leases in a rental agreement

There are many lease agreements available when someone rents a property.

Most fixed-term lease agreements include a lease period of 12 months. A month-to-month rental lease agreement is not uncommon. Each rental lease agreement includes how much rent the tenant pays each month and when the monthly rent amount is due. It also notes the security deposit amount, whether there’s a pet deposit and the lease end date.

It also includes other details, such as who is responsible for utilities, property maintenance, property repairs and whether parking is available as part of the real estate to those who pay rent or if it’s included in the monthly rent.

Legal terms, monthly rent details and other things in an apartment lease agreement

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract. Take the time to read it so you know what you’re renting, what you can do on the property and what you can’t.

While many are standard agreements, each rental agreement should outline, for example, how much advance notice you need to provide should the lease end date need to change or what the pet policy is for the rental properties.

Governing law refers to the state laws that govern the lease. In most cities, standard residential leases are governed by and construed in accordance with state laws.

It’s important to review the rental lease agreement closely as it outlines what is considered normal wear and tear.

For example, if a tenant decides to paint the whole apartment or remove blinds and put in curtains and there’s no written consent as part of the lease terms, the security deposit may not be returned if the rental property manager needs to pay to have the unit repainted or add blinds.

What each section means in a sample lease

Lease agreements are pretty standard but it’s good to note what each should include. Here are what each section means in a sample lease.

Property details

The rental lease agreement should include basic facts about the rental property. Each agreement includes the address, landlord or property manager’s name and contact information. It notes when the lease begins and ends, the monthly rent amount and what the monthly rent includes, such as appliances and parking.

Don

Don

Payments, deposits, lease termination, late fees

In addition to how much rent is expected every month, the lease agreement should make it clear when each month’s rent is due by and what, if any, late fees can be expected if you pay rent late. If you have a roommate, what might happen should one of you need to end the lease early?

Does the lease agreement note you’ll need to provide the first month’s rent and last month’s rent and a security deposit?

If a security deposit is due upon the signing of the lease, how is it handled upon lease termination? What’s considered normal wear and tear and what will be covered by a security deposit?

How much advance notice does a tenant need to give a landlord of their intent not to renew a lease once the lease expires or once the landlord lets the tenant know the monthly rent amount will increase? It should note the monthly rental rate does not increase during the fixed period of the lease.

Resigning or breaking your lease

Life happens, a new job opportunity in another city presents itself or something happens in which you need to break your lease. There are things your landlord will appreciate as part of a good landlord-tenant relationship.

It’s a good idea to review the details of the agreement, including what kind of advance notice you must give. There could be many reasons why you may have to break your lease. It’s important to know what’s at stake if you have to break a lease. You could lose your security deposit and your last month’s rent. You could also be responsible for finding someone to sublet your apartment or need to pay each month’s rent until your lease ends.

Include everything in writing to save time and money

Renting a new apartment can be a fun experience. Knowing the terms of your new home by reviewing the lease agreement can save both time and headaches in the short and long term. Having this legally binding agreement can help avoid misunderstandings, too.

Source: rent.com

Does a Landlord Have to Provide Air Conditioning? Your Rights as a Renter

If you find yourself in San Antonio, TX, in August, you’ll immediately understand the definition of a ‘hot summer day.’ The average temperature in the city home to The Alamo averages a steamy 96 degrees that month. With heat like that, an air-conditioned apartment sure would feel great to come home to. But does your landlord have to provide AC to you?

Despite the summer heat, it might surprise you that Texas does not mandate landlords to provide air-conditioning in rented apartments, townhouses or homes. Instead, Texas state laws defer to rental laws in effect. That might be surprising, especially since an average of 702 heat-related deaths (with 415 directly related to heat exhaustion) occurred in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State laws and a tenant’s right to air-conditioned living

Texas is not the only state that does not require landlords to equip rented units with AC. In fact, every state follows its own set of regulations pertaining to the duties of landlords and the rights of tenants.

In fact, landlord-tenant laws differ in each of the 50 states. Beyond that, cities and other governing bodies promulgate their own statutes on the matter. That means that even if a state’s laws do not require a landlord to provide working air-conditioning in their rental units, a city or other entity may enact legislation mandating they do in that particular municipality.

One way to decipher what is legal and what is not in your state is to contact the Consumer Protection Division where the residence is. While that site does not answer questions directly, it provides links so users can connect with a governmental agency in their state for further information.

Local laws

In addition to state laws governing landlord-tenant relationships, local jurisdictions, such as cities or villages, may establish their own building codes. Those rules set standards for matters like electrical wiring, smoke alarms, plumbing and ventilation. For example, a local law governing security might require the landlord to install additional locks or other safety precautions on an entry door or windows.

Your landlord doesn't have to provide AC to you.

Read your lease carefully

Not surprisingly, AC is among the top considerations for would-be renters. There are steps a would-be tenant can take so the unit they wish to rent has working air-conditioning prior to signing on the dotted line.

One is to take a personal tour of the property in question prior to committing to the rental contract. If there are no window units or no central air, ask about it. Don’t just assume it will be there on moving day if it’s not there during your tour.

Also, while you’re touring the apartment, check the workability of the AC by turning it on. Be wary if the landlord balks at this suggestion.

It’s also imperative to read your rental agreement carefully before signing it. Is air-conditioning mentioned? Who pays for the apartment’s electricity? If it’s the tenant and the window AC unit is old, it may not run efficiently or be in good working order. Does the lease mention such scenarios and explain who’s responsible for the maintenance and repair of the AC?

And, if your air-conditioning breaks, review your lease to determine the steps you’re supposed to take. You may have to contact your landlord directly or your community’s maintenance department. There could be provisions for after-hours emergency maintenance, too.

Implied warranty of habitability

In most jurisdictions in the United States, landlords must provide two services to tenants to ensure the rented unit fulfills the implied warranty of habitability. They are:

  • The resident needs sufficient access to essential utilities, such as sewer, electricity, water and heat
  • The rented property must be free of dangerous or life-threatening conditions. These include exposed wires, rodents, insect infestations and contaminated water.

Even if a rental agreement specifically requires a landlord to make repairs on the property, an implied warranty of habitability means the unit is just that: habitable.

An important component of an implied warranty of habitability is the tenant’s duty to pay rent. That covenant makes it easier for tenants to enforce the landlord’s responsibility for the maintenance of the unit.

Another clause to look for in a rental agreement is the prohibition of retaliation by a landlord against tenants who file housing code violations. Consult state and local laws for further details about what constitutes a violation of the jurisdiction’s implied warranty of habitability, if it even has one.

Duty to repair

Generally speaking, if a rental unit has air conditioning units, the landlord must repair them. That’s true even if state laws did not require a rental to have air-conditioned, but the landlord provided it, anyway.

That being said, the landlord should include who is responsible for repairing a malfunctioning AC in a lease. For example, even if AC is in a unit, a rental agreement may state that the tenant is liable for repairs to a malfunctioning air-conditioner. It might also indicate that while the landlord is responsible to complete the repairs. The costs associated with doing so are possibly tacked on to the rent. A lease could also relieve a landlord from responsibility for any type of repair if that’s how it’s written.

Your landlord repairing the AC is not a given.

Timing of repairs

Most state and local laws require repairs happen within a reasonable period of time. Just as each state maintains its own landlord-tenant laws, each one also defines that term differently.

For example, Texas law provides specific instructions for handling repair situations for rental units.

In Ohio, landlords are required to provide air conditioning units in rentals. Tenants must provide written notice to their landlord about the situation. And, according to Ohio law, the notice must come by U.S. mail.

In the Buckeye State, a ‘reasonable time’ is no more than 30 days. However, in case of an emergency, such as a malfunctioning furnace, the time for repair goes down to five days. Moreover, a tenant must permit the landlord access to the property to make the necessary repairs. Conversely, the landlord must provide the tenant with reasonable notice when the repairs will happen, generally defined as 24 hours. Emergency situations call for more immediate action.

Keep your cool to stay cool

Although air conditioning is among the most highly coveted amenities of rental living, there’s no uniform law across the United States requiring all landlords to provide it in their rental units. That means it’s imperative to personally tour a proposed property to ensure working AC is available if you want it. It’s also wise to review the lease agreement to determine the responsible party for the costs associated with repairs.

How To Save Money on Rent: 10 Ways To Reduce Your Rent Payment

With rent climbing higher than ever, these tips can help you save money and stay within your budget.

If you’re apartment hunting right now or are on the verge of renewing your lease agreement, you’re probably noticing a trend. The rent is getting higher and higher. After a slump in rental prices caused by the pandemic, the price of rent is rebounding by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Rent has already been climbing steadily over the past few decades, but this recent spike is pricing many people out of their homes or cities.

Thankfully, not all hope is lost for renters. While the high cost of rent is scary, there are ways you can reduce your monthly payments or find cheaper rates that fit your budget. Sometimes, you can negotiate with your landlord based on years of good behavior as a tenant or in exchange for services like maintenance repairs. Other times, it’s changing the location of where you live or how big your space is. Here are 10 tips for how to save money on rent.

Why is rent so expensive right now?

If it feels like rent is especially high right now and just keeps getting higher, that’s because it is. Due to a variety of factors, the cost of monthly rent has been climbing all over the U.S. But why has rent suddenly gotten so expensive?

The pandemic is partly to blame. When it began, many people moved away from big, pricy cities and metropolises seeking more room and space. With more units available and less demand, many landlords lowered their rents. But now, with people moving back to big cities, the demand is back and prices are jumping accordingly, with rents adjusting to and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Because of the extremely hot and competitive housing market, more people are staying renters instead of becoming homeowners. This means there are more and more people looking at and applying for a narrowing amount of rental units.

The lack of available units and rental units is another factor. There are simply not enough apartments and rental spaces available on the market to meet the large demand. Knowing that renters are desperate and have few options, a landlord can charge inflated prices.

These and other factors combine to make an expensive, difficult-to-navigate rental market. Potential renters also face challenges like real estate agents or investors with deep pockets who can pay upfront for a whole year or pay far more than the landlord is asking for the rental price.

Higher rents also mean a higher security deposit and other fees associated with renting like getting a background check on your credit report. If you don’t have enough savings, it’s hard to afford this process multiple times.

Combine all this and the high rental rates with the increasing cost of monthly expenses like utility bills and groceries, and lots of people are feeling the pinch right now. Luckily, there are steps you can take to save money and keep your rent down.

Tips for saving money on your monthly rent payments

Is your rent too darn high? Try these tips on how to save money on rent at your current or future apartment.

Move out of the big city.

Move out of the big city.

1. Move away from a city center

Sorry Petula Clark, but downtown is no longer the place to go to escape your worries and not be alone. Why? Because living downtown or near the city center is generally more expensive and you’ll likely need a roommate to afford it.

There’s more demand to live close to the heart of a city. It’s usually closer to offices and work, and it also lets you take advantage of all the perks of living in a big city. Dining, shopping and entertainment are all close by. But, you do pay a premium in rent for that access and proximity.

Even in the most expensive big cities, you can find more affordable rents in outlying neighborhoods and districts. When it comes to finding lower rental rates, choose your location wisely and live outside the city center. Yes, you’re not as close to all the city action. But you will save more money to actually enjoy those big-city attractions.

2. Find a smaller unit

Smaller apartments will have a smaller price tag. If you want to save money on rent, downsizing the size of your apartment is a great way to do so.

Larger apartments like two-bedroom apartments will always fetch higher rent. They’re bigger with more square footage, storage and other desirable amenities. So, if you’re finding yourself priced out of your two-bedroom apartment, look into smaller options like a one-bedroom apartment or a studio. With less square footage, these smaller apartments offer discounted rent.

You sometimes don’t have to look far for a more affordable new apartment, either. If you really like where you’re living but can no longer afford your current apartment, look at other units in your apartment complex. Apartment complexes will usually have numerous unit options size-wise. Yes, it does mean you’ll have a smaller room and smaller apartment overall. But it’s also a better deal.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

3. Move in with a roommate

Having a roommate is one of the oldest tried and true ways to save money on rent. If your apartment or house is big enough to accommodate it, sharing the space and costs with a roommate — or several — helps a lot rent-wise. Everyone in the house splits the rent, so when it comes time for the landlord to collect rent, it will hurt your wallet a bit less.

Having roommates is also a great way to keep an apartment or house if rent has suddenly increased. If the rent has become too high but you can’t bear to part with your beloved home or moving out isn’t feasible for you, start looking for roommates. Living with a roommate, you can also split other housing costs like utility bills. It keeps costs down for everyone in the apartment or house.

Of course, this option won’t work for everyone. Some people value their personal space and alone time too much. Others don’t have big enough units to accommodate more people. But it can also be a lot of fun. You can meet new people and make new friends. Or, you can live with friends or move in with a significant other.

4. Pay more money upfront

If you have enough savings, you can offer the landlord more money upfront in exchange for reduced monthly rent. Think of it as similar to a down payment on a house. The more you pay upfront, the less you have to pay per month. For renting, it would reduce the amount you owe each month.

This is a more unconventional option, so you need to discuss it with your landlord in advance to see if it’s an option they’d consider.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

5. Sign a two-year lease agreement

Scared of those pandemic rent price jumps that are going on? Rentals that were far cheaper in 2020 and 2021 now upping rent by hundreds or even thousands of dollars? One way to avoid those rent hikes is by signing up for an extended lease.

Instead of a standard one-year lease, sign an extended lease for two years or longer if you really like the place and want to stick around. There are numerous benefits to signing a long-term rental contract.

First, since they’ll have a new tenant locked in for several years, a landlord will sometimes reduce the monthly amount for rent. Since they know they won’t have a vacancy for a while, a price cut is sometimes acceptable.

Also, by signing a long-term lease, you can lock in the current rate for longer. After one year, even if rates are going up in other units, yours can’t change for another year. It’s good protection against a fluctuating market and high demand.

6. Search for rentals in the fall or winter

The time of year you’re looking at new rentals can also influence the price of rent because demand varies throughout the year.

Summer is usually the worst time to look for a new apartment. For one thing, the school year is over, so it’s an ideal time for families to move. People also have more time and availability on summer vacation. College students are also out for the summer and are moving cities. This time of flux for work and school means there are lots of people looking for new places to live.

Time your move and apartment search to happen during the fall and winter to find a better deal. Schools will be back in session, families are busy and there’s less hustle and bustle in the renting market. The cost of rentals may also be down due to reduced demand during this time period. Even if there’s not a big difference in cost, you can take advantage of the lack of demand to negotiate for less money.

Don

Don

7. Give back your parking space

If your unit comes with a parking space but you don’t have a car or use it, you can use it as a negotiation tactic.

Especially in the middle of a city, parking is in high demand. Landlords who can provide spaces to park cars have a definite advantage. Renters prefer to have a designated spot instead of hunting for parking on the street. It’s also safer for the car.

So, if you have a space you don’t intend to use, you can offer to give it back in exchange for reduced rent. In large apartment complexes where there aren’t enough spaces for all the tenants, your landlord might give you a discount for this convenience.

You’ll also save yourself from having to pay the additional fee that usually comes with having a parking space.

8. Look for units that aren’t updated

Newer and flashier comes at a premium.

One way a landlord can entice applicants is by updating units. Those fancy new apartments with updated appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors and other splashy amenities will cost more because of all those upgrades. Yes, they look great. But the amount the landlord is charging is far more than the unit is actually worth.

To save money, look for units that haven’t been recently updated. This usually means they’ll have older appliances. They aren’t as attractive, and sometimes, they’re inefficient appliances because they’re not the newest models. But they’ll still get the job done. And, if they don’t work or end up breaking? That’s what landlords and maintenance are for.

Another way to save money on rent? When given the option between a furnished and an unfurnished unit, opt for the unfurnished place. They’re more affordable. Plus, it’s always more fun to bring your own furniture and make the place your own.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

9. Offer to fix things yourself

Are you handy at fixing things? That may earn you a break on rent.

A landlord needs someone to fix things and offer maintenance services for their units. Usually, they’ll source this out. If you have verifiable experience as a handyman or can show your adeptness for fixing things, that someone could be you.

In exchange for your help around the property fixing minor issues and doing small repairs, your landlord may offer to discount your rent in exchange for these services.

10. Negotiate

Finally, one of the simplest ways to save money and pay less on your rent? Negotiate for a lower rate with your landlord.

As with any negotiation, it may not always work. Especially right now, landlords might not negotiate. But it never hurts to ask, and there are some circumstances where it can come out in your favor.

Say you’ve lived in the unit for a long time and have been a model tenant, but your lease is almost up and you’re facing an increase. Now is an ideal time to talk with your landlord. As a good tenant, you have some leverage. Explain that you want to stay but the new lease amount is too much. You can request a reduced amount based on your history as a model tenant. Your landlord may or may not go for it, but if they do, congratulations.

How much should I spend on paying rent?

The general rule of thumb is that you should only spend around 30 percent of your gross monthly income on rent. The idea behind this is that it creates a balanced budget. That goes toward your housing cost, leaving 70 percent for everything else like food, utilities, bills, savings and more.

This is a good idea in theory, but it definitely doesn’t apply to everyone and it can vary. You can always find an affordable place that’s under budget and less than 30 percent. Or, maybe you’re paying a bit more than 30 percent for rent, but you don’t have as many additional expenses.

The 30 percent is a good baseline, but it does vary. So, figure out what works best for you and your budget. You can check how much your rent is per month using our rent calculator.

Save more when the time comes to pay rent

Being able to afford rent is a serious challenge these days. These tips on how to save money on rent will pay off come the beginning of each month.

Source: rent.com

3 Instances When a Landlord Can Legally Break a Rental Lease

Read this to understand when you can legally break a lease agreement.

Even before the pandemic, landlords filed 3.6 million eviction cases on average in the U.S. each year. The process is emotional and difficult for everyone involved, but there are circumstances for which you as a landlord will have to break a lease agreement early.

If you’ve got a month-to-month lease agreement, either party can terminate at any time with proper notification, at a minimum of 30 days. But if you’ve got a fixed-term lease agreement with a tenant, such as a one-year lease, you can’t break the lease mid-way through on a whim.

When can you legally terminate a lease agreement early?

Breaking a lease agreement with cause

You’ve got a lease agreement that’s legally binding that the tenant signed before moving in. If that tenant violates the lease agreement by having an unapproved roommate, unauthorized pet, unpaid rent, has caused major damage or conducted illegal activities, you have every right to terminate their lease “with cause.”

In this instance, you would send your tenant a “cure or quit” notice. Either they “cure” the problem by paying rent owed, for example, or they “quit” the property. You can even send an “unconditional” quit notice if the issue at hand isn’t cured. For example, if the tenant alters or damages part of the property without your consent and there’s no way to fix the problem. Check your state laws on these types of lease terminations.

Eviction notice.

Eviction notice.

Can a landlord break a lease agreement without cause?

You can do so but you must include the reasons for this kind of early termination in the tenant’s lease agreement. If it’s not in the agreement, you can’t just force a tenant out on a whim.

Add a clause to your lease agreement that allows you to break a lease with 30- or 60-days’ notice so the tenant has time to find another place to live. Work with an attorney to make sure the language is accurate. Be upfront and clear in your language and point it out to the tenant at signing. There’s no reason to hide your intentions. If you know well in advance that you may have to break the lease, sign a month-to-month lease.

Reasons to break the lease early

There are certain circumstances under which you can break a lease, including:

1. You want to sell the property

You can sell whenever you want, but you must have a clause in the lease agreement in order to terminate the lease legally. Lease contracts will transfer along with the property and the new owner has to abide by them. Some buyers want properties that are already tenanted.

Decide if you want the tenants on the property during the sales process or if you want them out before putting the property on the market. Also, check whether your state requires you to offer existing tenants the first right of refusal.

You want to keep your tenants happy if they’re staying on the premises. And they do have some legal rights, including 24-hour notice of showings, the right to stay during a showing and the transfer of their security deposit to the new owner once the property sells.

Lay hardwood floors

Lay hardwood floors

2. You need to renovate the property

As a landlord, you must keep your property safe and habitable. If you need full access to the property in order to renovate and remodel to keep your property in good condition, you can terminate a lease. If the upgrades are going to cause health and safety issues, you can terminate a lease early. Again, you must have a clause in the lease agreement in order to terminate the lease legally.

3. You need to move into the rental space

If you’re renting out a house, for example, and you need to move back in, you can legally terminate the lease early.

How to terminate a lease

There are a few steps you must follow to legally end a lease to avoid a tenant possibly filing a claim in court.

Send a notice to the tenant letting them know that you’re terminating their lease. Check your state laws on how to write and deliver this termination notice. There are specific requirements for doing this.

Depending on the reasons you’re giving this notice, it may state the tenant’s transgression and warn them that they must vacate the property or face eviction. Or, you might give the tenant a few days to act on fixing whatever they did wrong, e.g., find a new home for their unauthorized pet or pay any rent owed. Again, check your state laws.

If the tenant doesn’t comply with the notice, you may have to file an eviction lawsuit.

Make sure it

Make sure it

When a landlord is not allowed to break the lease early

The bottom line is if you haven’t included a clause in your lease that you may terminate the lease early, you can’t just go ahead and do so. And your state may have a list of circumstances under which you’re restricted from ending a lease early. For example, there are usually rules around breaking the lease on a rent-controlled apartment.

You may just have to wait

Nobody likes the eviction process, and you don’t want to end up in court. But sometimes, you must remove a tenant. If it’s possible, your best bet is to wait until lease renewal time and not renew the lease. Depending on your state laws, you may need to give 30- to 60-days’ notice on non-renewal.

If you didn’t have an early termination clause in your lease agreement, but you need your tenant to move out, you can pay them, a.k.a., offering cash for keys. You give a tenant enough money to cover their moving costs and a deposit on another place they might rent.

Always be open and communicative with your tenants for the best outcome. In all cases, if you’re a property manager or landlord and you need to break a lease agreement, check your state laws and get an attorney’s input.

Source: rent.com

Can You Actually Buy an Apartment?

Find out the differences between renting an apartment and buying a condominium or co-op to decide which option is right for you.

Would you like to own your apartment rather than shell out rent on a monthly basis? That’s possible, but only if you own the building in which the apartment is. You can’t buy an apartment, but if real estate ownership is important to you, there are other alternatives to purchasing an apartment building, including a condominium or a co-op.

Each of those three options offers plusses and minuses, and it’s wise to weigh them against one another before deciding where to live next.

What is a condominium?

A condominium, also known as a condo, is a residential living community featuring separate units owned by individual owners. Major similarities between owning a condo and a house include:

  • The right to change the interior décor, including remodeling and updating
  • The responsibility for maintenance and repairs
  • The duty to pay real estate taxes on the property

As for the maintenance and care of shared areas, building amenities and the exterior of the complex, condominium owners pay regular fees to a condo association responsible for those matters.

In a condo, “you own the space within your unit and an undivided percentage interest of the entire complex,” explains Daniel Homick, a Raleigh, NC, real estate and finance specialist with Axiom and an attorney licensed in Ohio. Moreover, condo residents must follow by-laws enacted by the condo association.

Owning a condo is similar to homeownership, overall, but with condo fees and by-laws as two major differences. A third is owners of either also pay taxes on their real property.

You can buy and sell a condominium, and its value can appreciate or depreciate. If condo by-laws permit it, an owner may also rent their condo to a tenant. Doing so, however, does not relieve the condo owner from their duty to pay the mortgage on their property. That’s because renting to another person does not alter or impact the financial obligation incurred by the condo owner when they secured a mortgage.

A co-op has a board you

A co-op has a board you

What is a co-op?

Primarily found in populous metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, a co-op does not convey ownership of property directly but rather through a share in the structure. Says Homick, a co-op share offers “the right use the space the co-op occupies. You own the wallpaper but not the walls, the carpet but not the floor. The cooperative owns everything.”

In other words, when a person buys into a co-op, they become a shareholder that grants certain rights. “You’re a shareholder in the cooperative which owns the real estate. As a shareholder in the cooperative, you are entitled to occupy a specific unit represented by the shares,” he says.

Therefore, a co-op shareholder agreement does not convey real estate. Instead, Homick explains, the structure itself belongs to the co-operative. A co-op unit owner is must pay fees assessed by a co-op association for the maintenance of common areas of the structure, just like a condo.

Co-ops also have their own rules and regulations as to what can and can’t do in the living space, says Keith Martin, a Realtor based in Cincinnati, OH.

In addition, some laws apply to condominiums that do not pertain to cooperative ownership. Among them, says Homick, is that “co-ops may prevent the sale of shares to those they disapprove.” While certainly there are state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination in mortgage loan approvals for homes and condos,” cooperative-laws are not as airtight as condo laws” when it comes to that, he says.

Pros of owning a condominium

There are several benefits to owning a condominium. Among them is the right to remodel the living area according to the owner’s taste and needs. Of course, those alterations must abide by the condo’s by-laws.

Other advantages include:

  • No responsibility for outside maintenance, such as grass cutting and snow removal
  • Sharing the financial burden of the maintenance of common areas of the development with the other condo owners
  • Tax benefits of owning real property
  • Owning an asset to distribute to heirs

Benefits of apartment living

When deciding what type of abode is best for you, it’s wise to consider your needs.

If you prefer to pay rent and not be responsible for the physical maintenance of your apartment or its exterior, an apartment is your best option.

Another benefit of renting is flexibility. Whereas an apartment lease is for a specific length of time, usually a year, a condominium or co-op is for much longer typically. That’s because the latter two grant different levels of ownership, whereas renting an abode offers none.

Decisions, decisions, decision

When deciding whether to buy a condo, purchase a co-op title or rent an apartment, you must consider many factors, such as your income, lifestyle and needs so you make the best possible decision for your situation.

Source: rent.com

How to Navigate an Apartment Lease Takeover Like a Pro

If you’ve got to leave your apartment mid-lease, finding a qualified person to step in and take over your lease goes a long way to making the process go smoothly.

You gone.

Or, at least you need or want to go. But you’ve got this lease on your apartment that’s not up yet. You don’t want to break your lease because that’s got some consequences that may linger. You’ve got some other options, such as a lease takeover or a sublet. Here’s how you go about getting out in the best way possible.

What’s the difference between a sublet and a lease takeover?

In a sublet, a new person comes in to finish up your lease. They pay you and you continue to pay rent to the landlord. Three things to remember: Make sure your lease agreement allows you to sublet your apartment, let your landlord know you’ll sublet and you’re on the hook if the subletter doesn’t pay the rent.

An apartment lease takeover (a.k.a. lease transfer or lease assignment) is when a new renter agrees to take over your lease and has a separate, formal agreement with the landlord. That person would then be the lessee (the person taking over the lease). You still have to find out of your lease allows this, but a lease takeover is more of a clean break than a sublet.

Lease agreement

Lease agreement

Getting started

Transferring your lease may seem like traffic has parted and you’re ready to hit the gas, but first, you’re going to adjust your mirrors and check that you’ve got a full tank. Full stop on the driving metaphors, but you’ve got work to do.

Read your lease agreement

The lease may state you can’t sublet or otherwise transfer your lease to anyone else. And, if you’re allowed to sublet or do a lease transfer, you may have to pay a processing or transfer fee. You might have to let go of your security deposit or your last month’s payment.

Contact your landlord

Get it in writing that your landlord or property manager is on board with a lease takeover. Find out what your responsibilities will be. For example, do you have to find the lessee? Will you still be on the hook for rent if the lessee doesn’t pay? You may have to get your landlord to specify in writing that unpaid rent is not your burden.

Ready to do the lease takeover

You’re not done yet. The easier you make life for your landlord or property manager, the smoother your lease takeover process will be.

Find someone to take over the lease

You may not have to do this, but it will help your case.

It should go without saying that the person should have good credit and be able to pay the rent on time. The potential lessee will have to fill out a rental application and provide all the documents and background information you had to do when you began renting the apartment. Be prepared for your landlord to say no to your candidate. Have a backup person. And then another one just in case.

If you’ve made your case for your lessee candidate and your landlord is being difficult or unreasonable, you may need to find a lawyer. Look for someone who specializes in your state’s landlord-tenant laws.

Start your lessee search early

Just because it seems like everyone you know is looking for a place to live doesn’t mean they’re actually ready to find a place or put down money on something. Remember the months of scrimping, saving and organizing you had to do before you rented your place?

Word of mouth is great, particularly among friends, family, co-workers and others that you may already know. But you can also use social media to find someone. If you’re having trouble, you might think about offering to cover the first month’s rent or paying the utility bill for a couple of months.

Take good photos of your apartment

Take good photos of your apartment

Create an apartment listing

Write a description and take some great photos of your apartment. (A picture is worth a thousand words, they say.) Three to five images (kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, common space) are probably enough. You don’t need a fancy camera to take them. Make the rooms look cozy and inviting. Clear the clutter, let in as much natural light as possible and add some flowers.

Done deal

Once you’ve got your landlord’s approval, you’ll need to create an official document of the lease transfer outlining everything you all agreed to. (You can find a lease takeover template at wonder.legal.) You, your landlord and the new tenant will all have to sign the document.

You’re free to go now

Once you’ve found the perfect person to take over your lease, and they’ve signed on all the dotted lines, you are good to go.

Now, you can floor the gas and head into your new adventure.

Source: rent.com

Caught in the Act: Lying on Your Rental Application

In today’s ultra-competitive rental market, many tenants are finding themselves stuck on long waiting lists. Or, they’re in bidding wars with other qualified applicants. Demand for rentals is surging across the country, and supply isn’t keeping pace. There are steps you can take to help you stand out. But lying on your rental application is never the answer. No matter how much you need to find new housing.

The most common lies in rental applications

There are many reasons why you may feel the need to fib on your rental application, but it usually won’t help you get to where you want to be. Most of the time, landlords will be able to sort out the truth and will move on to the next applicant on the list. They may even warn other landlords in their network about your application.

1. References

It can be tempting to list friends and family as your rental application references. But with even a minimal amount of research, your landlord will likely be able to figure this one out. Always list real and accurate employment and rental references to boost your chances of passing the tenant screening process. If there’s a landlord on your list whose reference might not be completely positive, either don’t list them or contact them before submitting your application to see if you can work through the issue.

2. Income

Fabricating documents like pay stubs or bank statements have become much easier as technology advances. But this is also something that’s very easy for your potential landlord to cross-reference on a detailed credit report. While it’s legal for an independent contractor or business owner to submit their own pay stubs, creating fake pay stubs for verification purposes is actually illegal. If you’re applying for a rental and don’t meet the income requirements, it’s probably not the right fit for your situation anyway.

3. Pets

It can prove difficult to find housing with a furry friend, but certainly not impossible. Even if you make it through the application process without disclosing a pet, your landlord can end your lease agreement and evict you for breaking the lease if they discover an unapproved pet living at the property. In addition, if your pet causes any damage, you are financially responsible on top of your security deposit. If you already have a pet you can’t live without, look for a pet-friendly rental from the start.

man filling out a rental application

man filling out a rental application

Application lies vs. outright fraud

It’s one thing to make a mistake or forget some of the details on your application. But intentionally misrepresenting yourself on your rental application is a form of fraud. No matter how small it seems. If you use someone else’s personal information on your application, you’re committing identity fraud.

What happens if you get caught lying on your rental application

If your landlord finds false information on your application, they are likely to reject you and move on to the next qualified tenant in line. Since you won’t end up with the apartment anyway, was it really worth the lie? Some landlords will contact other landlords in their network or associations to warn them about you. This could cause trouble the next time you apply for a rental.

If your lie comes to light after a lease agreement has already been signed, your landlord might be able to proceed with an eviction. If you’re evicted for lying about your rental application, this is now part of your rental history and complicates your ability to secure future rentals.

Help your rental application stand out from the rest

Instead of straying from the truth on your application, the best way to stand out as a qualified tenant in a competitive market is actually to be completely transparent. If there are any potential red flags on your application, such as poor credit or a criminal record, attach a note that explains the situation and any steps you have taken to mitigate the issue.

Here are some other best practices:

  • Be sure to follow all application instructions carefully and submit all of the required materials. If the application details instruct you to call and set up an appointment, but you show up in person and knock on the door, you’re not going to start off on the right foot.
  • Spend time solidifying references who will speak to your responsibility and reliability
  • Consider taking additional steps like highlighting that you already hold a renter’s insurance policy. Or, try writing a cover letter to explain why you’re the right tenant for the property

Focusing on the factors you can control, like applying quickly and providing accurate documents and stellar references, increase your chances of being accepted for a new rental property.

Lying on your rental application is never a good idea

It might seem easier to lie in the moment. But it usually leads to more stress and costs down the road. It’s always best to start your landlord-tenant relationship on a positive note. And this positivity can continue throughout the term of your tenancy. Plus, having a great reference for your next rental is indispensable.

Source: apartmentguide.com