Tenants: Don’t Pay More Than You Have To!

With the population swelling all the time and the global housing market constantly going through its ups and downs, there are significantly more renters these days then there have been in the past. If you’ve been looking for a rental property that suits your unique needs, you may have already come up against tough competition for vacancies, and rates that are much higher than you’d like. However, by studying the various quirks of a given property market, and approaching the process in a careful way, you’ll fare much better than you could otherwise. Here are a few proven tips for getting the most out of your experience as a tenant.

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Haggle Over the Rent

Although landlords aren’t exactly going to shout it from the rooftops, the rent on most properties is negotiable. Of course, the wiggling room you’ll have on your rental price depends heavily on the area you’re hoping to live in. If demand is high, and the market is able to turn listings around in a matter of days, then your chances of getting a significantly lower price are pretty slim. On the other hand, if there are apartments for rent you’re interested in, which have sat on the market for a month or so with no movement, then this is a pretty clear sign that you’ll have some decent room for negotiation. To give yourself the best possible chances of a reduction, show a landlord that you’re serious about renting, by making sure you’re ready to sign a lease as soon as the landlord agrees to your offer. By getting deep into negotiations, you can convince the landlord in question that waiting around even longer for another interested tenant will be more costly than knocking something off the monthly bill. Obviously, taking this approach will have its risks, but as long as you’re always considering how affordable a certain rental property is to you, and being firm with your negotiation standpoints, you’ll have very little to worry about.

Defend your Deposit

Security deposits, typically equal to one month’s rent, have a couple of functions. First of all, they’re a defence for landlords against unreliable tenants who duck out of rent. Deposits are also considered insurance against any damage beyond acceptable wear and tear on the property. Ask anyone who’s rented for a number of years, and they’ll tell you that there’s a big difference between being entitled to the deposit you put down, and actually getting it back from a landlord or third party. Obviously, you’ll want to maximise your chances of getting your deposit back when your tenancy comes to an end. To do this, you need to take a very proactive approach, both when moving in and preparing to leave a rental property. It’s a good idea to source pictures of the property dated before you move in, and to take before and after photos on the first and last days of your tenancy. You should also make a point of documenting any kind of repairs, upgrades or other changes to the property which happen when you’re living there. When you’re preparing to move out, insist on one last walkthrough with the landlord. You can even have a witness present if you feel there’s any chance of a dispute coming up later. Finally, read up on your country and area’s laws regarding security deposits, and be sure to make a timely, written request to your landlord for the return of your deposit.

Assess Different Landlords

Most people looking for an apartment will have a fair understanding of what to look for in terms of the properties themselves; location amenities, etc. However, you should also take the time to screen prospective landlords as well. Doing this will give you a little insight into the property owner’s approach to customer service, which will ensure the building you end up living in will have any repairs dealt with swiftly and thoroughly. Do some digging and ask all the right questions, and you’ll be 110% sure that the tenancy you’re getting into is right for you. Talk to some of the neighbours under the same landlord about their management style. Just remember that not everyone is going to get along famously with their landlord, and you should take everything that you hear from other tenants with a grain of salt. The properties themselves can often be a firm indication of the kind of relationship you’re getting into. No matter how badly you need a place to live, always apply common sense when looking around the property. If there’s a dirty carpet, the place hasn’t been cleaned professionally in a while, or some of the electricals or appliances don’t work, this is a firm indication that you’re walking into a negative landlord-tenant relationship.

Get Around the Application Fee

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Most landlords will charge a rental application fee to run a credit check. These are generally quite negligible, and if you’re only going to apply to one apartment, no big deal. However, if you’ve got a lot of boxes to check on your search for a rental property, or you’ve got poor credit, then you may wind up applying to multiple different properties, and having to pay fee after fee. Obviously, you don’t want these little extras to cripple your finances as you look for somewhere to rent, and there are a range of ways you can get around these fees. You can offer to pull your credit report yourself, which some management companies and independent landlords will be happy with. Also, if you’re renting as a couple, and one of you has good enough credit to afford the apartment, then only that person should apply, as two applications will cost you more. Some institutions will even allow you to tack the fee onto the rent, and pay it over a longer period of time. Remember, no two fees or sets of rules are going to be the same.

Don’t Automatically Double Down for Pets

Tenants with pets have typically had to pay higher deposits or other charges for bringing cats and dogs in with them. Some landlords will even charge monthly fees for each animal. This can be a negligible extra, but depending on the market, it can also be completely extortionate! Again, if you’re smart about your approach to renting, you won’t have to pay either pet fees or rent. If you find that the landlords you’re talking to are gnawing away your money from both ends, then keep looking. Requesting more money for potentially destructive pets is understandable, but this should come in the form of either rent or a deposit, not both. If a landlord is insisting on rent or a deposit for a family pet, then it can still be wise to negotiate. However, you’re not going to get far by being as ruthless as you can be with rent. Any landlord operating in a fast-paced market, particularly if they’re fairly established and have a lot of properties, will have the upper hand, and can afford to turn you down. Still, like with any negotiations, it never hurts to ask!

The area you’re looking to rent in might have countless accessible properties, or it may be a seller’s market, where landlords are pulling big cheques for small properties. Whatever the situation, you’ll obviously want to come out with as much financial freedom as possible! By fixing your mind on the process ahead of you, and taking these tips on board, you’ll ensure that you never have to pay more for your next rental property than you have to.