Tips for Tenants

  • Smarter Tenant Tip #1:

    Did you know that Landlords annually have to pay interest on your security deposit? Check with the state banking commission for the rate of interest. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #2:

    Set your rental priorities before you start looking. The rent, desire location, number of bedrooms and whether you want to keep a pet. This will help focus your search. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #3:

    Be prepared. Get a copy of your credit report, check it for accuracy (press for corrections if necessary) before your prospective landlord lays his eyes on it. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #4:

    Always inspect the rental unit before you sign a lease or rental agreement. Think carefully before signing-off on a clause that states that the rental is in fine shape. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #5:

    Before you move out, find out what exactly the landlord expects in the way of cleaning. If you get no answer, announce a cleaning plan of your own. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #6:

    It's common for landlords to limit overnight guests, such as allowing a guest for no more than ten days in any six-month period with written approval required for longer stays. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #7:

    Landlords typically want all adults (18 years of age and older) who will live in the rental unit, including both members of a couple, to sign the lease or rental agreement. More

Tips for Landlords

  • Smarter Landlord Tip #1:

    When you are ready to find a tenant for your vacancy, you must select a tenant with whom you can maintain a professional relationship throughout the tenancy. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #2:

    Application fees are common practice today. If you feel uncomfortable about this, you may offer to refund the fee only if the applicant becomes your next tenant. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #3:

    If you are renting a property that was built before 1978, you are required to provide a disclosure notice and booklet from the EPA regarding lead and the hazards of lead. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #4:

    A month-by-month lease can be written or oral. Rent is payable monthly and the lease can be changed or ended by either the landlord or the tenant after giving some notice. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #5:

    Whenever you advertise a rental, you are subject to the fair housing laws which state that you cannot refuse to show a rental nor can you refuse to rent to someone. More

Tenant Tips and Tools

Smarter renting Tip #1:

Did you know that Landlords annually have to pay interest on your security deposit? Check with the state banking commission for the rate of interest. Each year on Jan 1st the banking commission will set the rate for the coming year.

Smarter renting Tip #2:

Set your rental priorities before you start looking. The rent, desire location, number of bedrooms and whether you want to keep a pet. This will help focus your search. You don't want to drive yourself crazy running around looking at inappropriate places.

Smarter renting Tip #3: Tenant Traps:

  • Never rent from a landlord who asks non-business-related questions or subjects you to an inquisitor grilling.
  • Never pay more for a credit check than a reasonable approximation of the landlord's actual costs.
  • Never lie on the rental application.
  • Never rent a place that you have serious misgivings about.

Smarter renting Tip #4: Rules to rent by:

  • Be prepared. Get a copy of your credit report, check it for accuracy (press for corrections if necessary) before your prospective landlord lays his eyes on it. Develop plausible explanations for damaging entries if possible. Get your references line up before you start apartment hunting. Make sure your roommates do the same.
  • Be creative. Look for rentals in newsletters, bulletin boards, early editions of the weekend papers, networking (check www.fransland.com)
  • Be choosy. Don't be in a rush, and check out the landlord. The rental unit, the neighbors and the neighborhood by asking current tenants what it is like to live there.
  • Be realistic. Don't take on rent that will cripple your social life or make it impossible to make other necessary expenditures.
  • Be a negotiator. Negotiate more favorable terms at the start of tenancy- for example, a lower security deposit, especially if you have a high credit rating.

Smarter renting Tip #5: Inspect before you sign:

Always inspect the rental unit before you sign a lease or rental agreement. Think (and look) carefully before signing-off on a clause that states that the rental is in fine shape. Look for damage, dirt, mildew, pest or rodent problems and obvious wear and tear. Write down (be as specific as possible) both serious problems, such as a broken heater or leaking roof, and mirror flaws such as a stained kitchen counter, dirty drapes or faded paint. Back up your written statement with photographs.

As much as possible, try to get your landlord to fix problems before you move in. Write down any agreement in a letter of understanding.

Keeping tabs on the condition of the rental at move-in is an excellent way to protect yourself when it comes time to move out and getting your security deposit returned. Without good proof of the condition of the premises at the start of the tenancy, your landlord may keep all or part of your deposit, claiming you left the place filthy or damaged it – for example, stained the rug, cracked the bathroom mirror or left behind a broken garbage disposal. Your initial inspection (and photos) will establish that the problems existed at the start of the tenancy and are not your fault.

Check your state statutes: Some require landlords to give new tenants a written statement on the condition of the rental premises at move-in time, including a comprehensive list of existing damages.

Smarter renting Tip #6: Rules to Rent by:

  • Before you move out, find out what exactly the landlord expects in the way of cleaning. If you get no answer, announce a cleaning plan of your own, designed to return the place to its conditions (minus ordinary wear and tear) at the start of your tenancy. Unless the landlord objects, follow through with your plan.
  • Ask the landlord to inspect when you leave, and take your own photos. You don't want to run the risk that you'll be charged for damage caused by the next tenant.
  • Be sure to write a demand letter before going off to court.
  • Choose your roommates carefully. Co-tenants are jointly and severally liable to the landlord, which means the each individual co-tenants is legally responsible for complying with the lease terms, including payment of rent in full. To be blunt: When it comes to paying rent and making good on damages, you are your co-tenant's guarantor- if she flakes, you pay.

Smarter renting Tip #7: Limits on Guest Stays:

It's common for landlords to limit overnight guests, such as allowing a guest for no more than ten days in any six-month period with written approval required for longer stays. Landlords do this to keep long-term guests from gaining the status of full-fledged tenants who have not been screened of approved and who have not signed the lease or rental agreement.

Smarter renting Tip #8: Who Should Sign a Lease or Rental Agreement?

Landlords typically want all adults (18 years of age and older) who will live in the rental unit, including both members of a couple, to sign the lease or rental agreement. Doing this makes everyone who signs responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent.

The landlord isn't the only one who benefits when everyone signs on the dotted line. If you have roommates, you'll want them to understand that they are bound by the landlord's rules on guests, noise, pets and so on. It's important for everyone to realize that one roommate's serious transgression can result in the ouster of everyone.