Rental Basics Tips

Read these 22 Rental Basics Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Rental Home tips and hundreds of other topics.

Rental Basics Tips has been rated 3.2 out of 5 based on 225 ratings and 1 user reviews.
As A New Landlord Who’s Just Listed Property on Townhouses For Rent Websites, What Are Some of My Rights as the Property Owner?

Landlord Rights You Should Know Before You Offer Townhouses For Rent

Sure, everyone talks about your overburdening responsibilities as a landlord, but what about your rights? Guess what, you have some, too. Not surprisingly, your rights as a landlord closely match your tenant's responsibilities. You have the right to:

  • Receive the rent – on time and in full. Should your tenant have a problem with complying with this condition in a given month, you have the right to be notified in a timely fashion to prevent you from making financial commitments that may not be fulfilled.
  • Receive notification when your tenants are going to be away for an extended period. A long vacation or business trip could mean your rental home will be unoccupied and waiting for Murphy's Law to take over. Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, always at the wrong time. With notification, you can check on your property to ensure it's in good shape while your tenant is away.
  • Receive a repair request and notification in a timely fashion. Sometimes, tenants think they're “doing you a favor” by not immediately notifying you of a needed repair. However, sometimes, a small leak, for instance, becomes a raging water torrent and your formerly minor repair becomes a major cost project. Receiving timely notification of repairs gives you the opportunity to solve a small problem before it becomes a major issue.
  • Have your tenants abide by all rental or lease terms and provide you appropriate notice if they're going to move to another rental home. Just as you are expected to notify your renters in a time frame that allows them to find other accommodations, you deserve to enjoy the same consideration. You'll need some time to make property improvements and locate new qualified tenants.
A successful landlord/tenant relationship dictates that both parties keep their agreements and provide a level of respect to each other.

   
I’m Beginning My First Apartment Search. What Are Some of My Rights as a First Time Renter?

Some Tenant Rights You Should Know as a First Time Renter

First time renters should become aware of their rights as well as responsibilities before finishing their apartment search. After considering apartments, homes, and townhouses for rent, you'll find the right one for you. Equally important is getting the right terms for your new rental home. Knowing your rights help you negotiate a good deal for both parties. Consider the following. You have a right to have:

  • A safe, clean, and healthy home. Decent sanitary conditions are important and you have the right to expect to receive a clean environment.
  • Reasonable privacy. While your landlord does have the right to gain access to your rental home when needed, you have the right to expect appropriate notice. If you live in a multi-unit building, you have the right to enjoy peace and quiet to enjoy your home.
  • Written receipts or other evidence of payments made by you (security or other deposits, monthly rent, etc.). A landlord that has a problem with providing such verification may signal other problems in the future. But, don't worry; most landlords understand the need for written receipts.
  • Have repairs completed in a timely fashion after you provide written notification to your landlord. Once again, most professional landlords are aware of their responsibility to make repairs as soon as possible after notification.
First time renters who become knowledgeable of their rights and responsibilities typically have a much more successful relationship with their rental home and their landlord. If you want to occupy your new rental home for the long term, your landlord will also appreciate you being knowledgeable of your rights and duties, too.

   
I’ve Listed My Property in Townhouses for Rent Databases, But What Are Some of My Responsibilities as a Landlord?

After Signing a Lease on One of Your Townhouses for Rent, Here Are Some of Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords have numerous responsibilities related to their homes for rent. Most are attached to the maintenance of their units. But there are other duties that they should also understand. Here are some of the primary responsibilities that apply to landlords:

  • Comply with all building and health codes that apply to your apartments and townhouses for rent. Violations of either often cause damage to both landlord and tenant.
  • Maintain a good quality of life for your tenants. Peace, quiet, and the uninterrupted enjoyment of their home are some of the rental basics that all tenants should expect and receive. Keep your visits to a minimum and take any other action necessary to ensure your tenants enjoy a peaceful occupancy.
  • Make repairs as soon as possible after notification. The most professional landlords understand that the condition of their homes for rent is a direct reflection of themselves. They have empathy for their tenants who are dealing with a leaky “something,” a broken pipe, electrical issues, or other things that have broken or ceased working. Respond as quickly as you would with your own primary residence.
  • Perform to the terms of the lease agreement just as you expect your tenants to do. Rental documents impose conditions on both landlord and renter; both parties need to treat the terms and each other with respect.
  • Give timely notice of any changes in a month-to-month agreement or prior to the end of a lease term. If you've decided to increase the rent, seek new tenants, or sell your property, give your renters appropriate notice so they have the time to conduct another apartment search. If your roles were reversed, you would appreciate, if not demand, this consideration.
Most landlord responsibilities are simply common sense ways to conduct your life. Merely give your tenants the respect for their privacy and integrity as you would like to receive in return.

   
After Leasing a Rental Home, What Are My Responsibilities as a Tenant?

Here Are Some Tenant Responsibilities After You've Leased a Rental Home

There always appears to be more focus on a landlord's duties, but tenants also have responsibilities that should be fulfilled. Most of the important agreements you make as a tenant are simple and logical. Here are some primary responsibilities you have if you've completed your townhouses for rent search and are about to sign a lease.

  • Pay your full rent on time. If there is ever an unforeseen problem with this, notify your landlord immediately after you realize one exists.
  • Take good care of the property. You spent time and money conducting an exhaustive apartment search. Now that you've found the perfect residence after looking at numerous homes for rent, give the property – and yourself – the respect that is deserved. Maintain your residence in good condition.
  • Inform your landlord of any required repairs (normally in writing) so problems can be solved in a timely fashion.
  • Maintain noise at a reasonable level. Having 2,000 of your closest personal friends over for a wild two-day weekend party may be inappropriate in your rental home.
  • Follow the terms of your lease agreement and provide your landlord with as much notice as possible when you decide to move. If you decide to move to a new residence four months before your lease expires, don't wait until two weeks before the move to advise your landlord. Property owners should have as much time as possible to locate another good tenant.
There may be other responsibilities or agreements specifically noted in your lease document (water the lawn, paint the dining room, etc.) that you and your landlord have negotiated. Fulfill all of your appropriate responsibilities.

   
Should I Consider Employing a Management Company If I Want to Offer My Property in a Townhouses for Rent Database?

If Your Property Is in a Townhouses for Rent Database, Consider Having a Management Company

A rental property management company may or may not be valuable to you after you list your real estate in townhouses for rent databases. Before you decide to use or not use one, give some thought to your plans and goals. Here are a few things to consider.

  • What type of landlord do you want to be? Are you interested in being an “active” business owner, managing all of the various factors surrounding apartments and homes for rent? Or do you lean towards being a “passive” landlord, leaving the day-to-day requirements to others so your major activity is cashing monthly rental income checks?
  • Rental property management companies typically charge 10% to 15% of the monthly rental as their fee for services. Are you able to price your rent at a level that allows you to absorb this fee without harm to your budget? You should look at this fee as a component of your fixed monthly expense (mortgage, insurance, taxes, condo fee, etc.). In return for eliminating all of the requirements of managing a rental home – collecting rent, making repairs, promptly attending to emergency problems, and other items – this fee is typically reasonable. Is this worth the management freedom it offers to you?
  • If you want to employ a management company, resist the urge to merely pick one out of the phone book. Just like the rest of the business community, there are both good and less than efficient rental management companies. Screen prospective companies just as you screen prospective tenants. Ask for references that you can verify.
As you can see the first decision is personal. Do you want to manage a business or just enjoy the income? If you decide to follow the passive approach, examine some rental management companies who understand the rental basics and perform at a high level for other landlords like you.

   
After a Successful Apartment Search, What Type of Insurance Should I Get?

After a Successful Apartment Search, Get Some Renter's Insurance

As you complete an apartment search and have found the perfect rental home, you should turn your attention to insurance. First time renters are sometimes confused as to what action to take. But it's really quite easy to take care of this important consideration.

You should use personal referrals or the Internet to get renter's insurance quotes that will give you the protection you need. Since you do not own the rental home you're going to occupy, you need not be concerned with insuring the structure. You do want to protect all of your personal property that will live in your place of dwelling with you.

It is also wise to carry some personal liability insurance as part of your renter's coverage. Should a guest in your rental home suffer an injury or accident that generates an insurance claim, you want to be covered sufficiently to protect your personal bank account, however modest or strong it may be.

Make an accurate inventory of all of your personal items, including furniture, clothing, electronics, antiques, small appliances, etc. Put a reasonable replacement value on each item or group of smaller items. Take pictures, if you can, of all of your “stuff.” If you have a covered insurance claim for damage or loss of personal property, you'll have your inventory list (and, hopefully, pictures) to verify your loss.

By getting a good renter's insurance policy, you'll enjoy your new rental home even more. You can sleep well knowing that your personal property and liability issues are covered. You should also find the cost to be quite reasonable.

   
What Are Some Efficient Ways to Search for Apartments and Homes For Rent?

Some Efficient Ways to Search for Apartments and Homes For Rent

A search for apartment and homes for rent can often be time consuming, expensive, and sometimes frustrating. You can easily drive around for hours visiting many inappropriate properties. Trying to get good rental information from newspapers or telephone calls is a challenge. One you'll often lose. Here's a better way to search for apartments and townhouses for rent.

Sit down and relax with your desktop or laptop computer and start your apartment search. Using Rentals.com, you can search a great number of excellent homes, apartments, and townhouses for rent and get rent information on a wide variety of properties. But wait, there's more.

If you're looking for homes for rent with two bedrooms, two baths, and other specific criteria, you would no doubt like to avoid spending valuable time viewing properties with four bedrooms or reading about studio apartments. Not a problem. You'll have the opportunity to specify much of your criteria in an apartment search. This eliminates properties in which you have no interest. This is another excellent time-saver for you.

Finally, in addition to text information that gives you all the rental basics you need to know, you'll also often be able to view multiple pictures of the actual property. This feature helps you either eliminate from or add to your list of apartments and homes you'd like to physically visit. You might even enjoy your apartment search. Wouldn't that be exciting?

   

Rental Home - Up Front Costs

The rule of thumb is that you will not want to spend more then 30% of your take home money on rent per month for your rental home. The less you do spend on rent per month the more you can afford to save and maybe one day buy your own home.

   

Maintaining The Rental

Landlords with apartments and houses for rent sometimes make deals with tenants on certain items, such as the landlord may take some money off the rent if the tenant agrees to cut the grass for the rental. You should discuss who will maintain the items in and around the rental and if you are willing to do some work around the rental, try and negotiate a discount on your rent.

   
How much does it cost to move into a new home?

Rental Home - Up Front Costs

Moving into a new rental home can be fairly expensive at the beginning. There is a lot to consider when trying to figure out what you can afford in your new location both initially and each month. There is usually a lot of money due up front just to get you into the rental, such as security deposit, first month's rent, pet security if required, connection fees for utilities for gas, electric, and telephone, not to mention the cost of moving your belongings from one place to another. Once you are in your new rental, if the home is not furnished, you may have to buy things like mattresses, beds, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and other furniture to fill the home. Figure out what you can afford and how much money you have to start with, you will also need to determine how much you can spend on rent each month to still live comfortably.

   
Who is responsible for maintenance on the rental?

Maintaining The Rental

Before you sign the lease for a new rental, it is important to figure out and negotiate who is responsible for what maintenance and where. As a rule of thumb, the tenant is usually responsible for keeping the rental home in a neat and clean manner, and responsible for all small minor repairs. The landlord is responsible for all major repairs within the rental and responsible for maintaining the outside of the house, such as cutting the grass and making sure the entryways are kept safe and well-lit. Maintaining the rental is often a partnership between the landlord and the tenant; since the tenant resides there daily they should make the landlord aware of things needed to be done or repaired.

   
What questions do I need to ask to see if the rental is a fit?

Ask All Your Questions

When you meet a potential landlord it is a good time to start asking some questions and find out more of what is involved in the rental home. Prepare a list of questions you would need answered in order to consider renting the home. Some sample questions are:

  • What is included in the rental?
  • What utilities are you (the renter) responsible for?
  • What is th length of the lease?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What is the neighborhood and the neighbors like?
  • Who will maintain the property?
  • Where can you park?
  • Is there additional storage included?
  • Is there a security system?
  • When the current tenant is leaving?
When looking for a rental home a lot of things need to fall in line and be similar to what you want and need, asking questions is the only way to determine if there is a fit.

   
What should I do with rental paperwork?

Keep All Your Rental Paperwork

Keep all paperwork you receive about the rental property together in a safe place. You should safely store your copy of the lease, any written request for repairs you make, receipts for rent or cancelled checks, bills paid, any any other paperwork related to the rental. These papers are all proof of what you paid for and requests and will come in handy if a dispute arises. You will want to make sure that you can get to these papers if you need them. If any questions, come up you can also refer to these papers.

   
Can I leave my rental before the lease expires?

Exiting The Rental Lease

Even if you have every intention of staying in the rental for the term of the lease, you will still want to be aware of the policy for exiting the lease. You never know what will happen in the future and if for some reason you may need to move, you will want to be aware of what is involved. Most landlords just want to receive rent each month. The tenant is usually responsible for paying the rent until the home is rented, however, under drastic situations the landlord has the right to ask you to vacate the apartment and find a replacement tenant to take over lease. You will want to discuss exiting the lease and other alternatives with the landlord before signing the lease.

   
How can I get to know the nieghborhood before I buy in the area?

Consider Renting Before You Buy

Sometimes the best way to get to know an area is to live in it. Consider renting a home in the prospect area before you buy your own home. If you are serious about living in an area but are not quite ready to buy a home, try renting a home in the area and getting to know the neighborhood. This will make when you are ready to buy a home a little easier because you are already well adjusted and familiar with the area and the procedures.

   
What do I need in the perfect home?

Finding The Right Place

Whether you are moving out for the first time, looking for a home in another location, or just looking to upgrade to a larger house, it is extremely important that you find the place that is right for you. The right place can mean many things - a place you can afford, with enough room, that is in a safe location, with good schools if you have children, close to transportation, shops or other things you may need, you want to find a place where you will feel at home. Sit down and make a list of everything you need in a new house, before beginning your search, so you will not waste anyones time especially your own.

   
If I Can’t Fulfill My Lease Agreement, What Are My Options for My Rental Home?

Options for Your Rental Home If You Can't Fulfill Your Lease Agreement

If one cannot fulfill the complete terms of one's lease agreement in a rental home, a few options, responsibilities, and courses of action are available. First, the situation depends on whether you're a landlord or a tenant.

Landlords who discover that they must sell their property quickly or encounter other circumstances that might prevent them from fulfilling all lease terms should consider the following. Are there other steps you could take to complete your agreement in the short term? Are you able to negotiate with your tenants to reach amended terms that help you both? Are you in a position to make an offer of money or other accommodations to your tenants?

As a tenant with a lease, you also may have a few options in certain circumstances. The widely used term “breaking a lease” has a negative connotation with good reason. Both landlord and tenant have the responsibility to adhere to a lease agreement in full. Not selectively. Tenants who get a reputation as "lease breakers" may find increasing difficulty in finding homes for rent and landlords that will accept them if their tendencies become public knowledge. If you are forced to move before the end of your lease term, give your landlord the most notice you can. With a responsibility to attempt to re-rent the property, your landlord can make an honest effort to do so. Should your lease have a “right to sub-lease” provision, you can seek a tenant currently looking for apartments or townhouses for rent. You could offer then a sub-lease for the remaining term of your lease.

If your current rental agreement does not provide for a sub-lease, talk with your landlord to see if he/she is agreeable to sign a document that allows you to do so. In most cases, you'll still be the person responsible for the cost of your rental home, but sub-letting your residence can work.

Simple communication can be an important component to working out problems in lease completion for both parties. Often, tenants and landlords can come to agreements to work out these issues to the benefit of both parties.

   
What Are Some Things We Should Know as First Time Renters?

Some Things First Time Renters Should Know

First time renters typically have many questions, since none of us was born with this built-in knowledge. Fortunately, deciding on apartments and homes for rent is not as complicated as evaluating real estate for purchase and learning the mortgage process. There are questions and answers you should know to make your apartment search more successful. Here are a few for your consideration.

  • How much can I realistically spend on rent? This may appear to be a question that has an obvious answer for all renters. Wrong. Some first time renters often use the same approach they take when buying a car or a new flat screen TV. Spending an extra $40 per month on a car payment or an extra $100 for a larger HDTV is NOT the same as bidding on townhouses for rent that cost significantly more than your budget dictates.
  • Know your credit strength (or weakness). Learn the status of your credit rating BEFORE you spend a lot of time viewing townhouses for rent. If you're credit report is strong, you can look at all interesting homes for rent that you can afford. Should you have credit problems, prepare an honest, realistic explanation in writing that you can give to any prospective landlord who asks.
  • Decide whether you want a monthly rental or a longer term lease. First time renters sometimes make the mistake of spending many hours looking for the perfect rental home, finding it, and then settling for a month-to-month rental, which can be terminated on 30 days' notice by either party, when they really want a long term lease. Sometimes conditions dictate that you should opt for a monthly rental, but you still sign a lease that you know you may not be able to fulfill.
  • Know your rights and responsibilities. Get information through the Internet about both your rights and your responsibilities as a tenant. A successful home rental results in a win/win situation for both landlord and tenant. This result is much easier to achieve when you know what you can and cannot do, and what you should or should not do.
This is a partial list of some important things you should know as a first time renter. Get as much information as you can before you become serious about looking at townhouses for rent.

   
What Are Some Items I Should Have on a Checklist When I Evaluate Townhouses for Rent?

Some Items You Should Have on a Checklist When Evaluating Townhouses for Rent

While prospective home buyers often create elaborate sets of questions during their search, many renters tend to underestimate the importance of having a checklist when they evaluate homes, apartments, or townhouses for rent. But, if you're going to live in a rental home as your primary residence, you should have a meaningful checklist of items, too. Here are some suggestions for your considerations when evaluating apartments and homes for rent.

  • Does the exterior of the property appear to be in good condition? In addition to your desire to have a home that reflects your good taste, the exterior condition may reflect how good the interior truly is.
  • Does the interior generally look fresh, clean, and in good condition? Much like your exterior evaluation, a well maintained or recently refreshed interior may (no guarantees, of course) reflect the landlord's attention to plumbing, heating, electrical, and air conditioning systems.
  • Are there any seemingly obvious repairs that need to be made now? This could be a minor -- or sometimes important -- issue. Is this a problem that you both (landlord and tenant) just realized? Or is it a reflection on what you might expect when repairs are necessary in the future? Will repairs be completed in a reasonable time? Will they be done professionally?
  • Is the kitchen properly equipped? In many ways, the kitchen is the most important room in your rental home. Is it equipped with good quality appliances? Are there sufficient cupboards and is the counter space large enough to cook effectively?
  • Does the home feel like it's properly heated or cooled? Your comfort is of prime importance. If you're paying for heat or cooling, try to feel for drafts as these could cost you money.
You could start with these suggestions and add other items to your renter's checklist before you conduct your apartment search. You'll be prepared to make a physical visit and have a guideline and/or a source of questions for the real estate broker or landlord.

   

Finding The Right Place

There are several great ways to find the right homes for rent. You should begin your search online to get an overview of what is available, and you won't even need to leave your home. You can get listings of homes in your targeted area. The better websites and services also let you set up alerts for when homes get listed that fit your requirements. Start looking about 2-3 months before you plan on moving, to get your feet wet and start looking ahead of time.

   
What days does the garbage get picked up at my rental?

Garbage And Recycling At Rental Home

When moving into a new rental make sure to find out from the landlord or building manager when the garbage goes out and where it should be kept before being picked up. You will also want to find out if the town you are moving to recycles and what day recycling is picked up or where you need to drop off the recycling. If you do not get the information from your landlord you can always call the town and ask them and request a schedule.

   
Are all lease the same?

Read The Lease Before Signing

It is a good idea to spend the time and read the rental agreement or lease before signing it. This way if you are not comfortable with anything in the lease, you can discuss it with the landlord and have it changed before you agree to it by signing. Reading the lease may also help to bring up other questions or things that need more clarification. If you are not comfortable reading the lease yourself, bring someone with more experience or ask the landlord for a copy of the lease before you meet to sign it and have someone else look over it for you.

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Rental Home Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Ray Lokar