Helpful Tips For First-Time Renters & College Students

Jul 18, 2011 | John Telford | No Responses

First-time renters can have a difficult time navigating the murky waters of apartment & home rentals. That’s why, even though college renters may have enjoyed a summer away from school, it’s important to do your homework before making a choice you may regret later.

There are no bad questions

First, ask agents lots of questions while you’re touring. That’s your time to discover if you’re a fit for the home. Learning the rent price, square footage and pet policies are no-brainers, but make sure you keep the information from each home you visit in one easy to find place so you can reference and compare later.

Not all rentals are built the same

It will come as no surprise that different rentals include different options. Use those notes to size up which rentals will really cost you more. Did one rental include parking in the cost of the unit? Is another within walking distance of your campus?

Perhaps one of the quickest ways to rack up costs is through utilities. Passadore Properties owner Eddie Passadore says “Ask an agent or owner for the average annual utility costs on the unit. If you find that it’s higher than you expected to pay, ask if the appliances are energy-efficient and if the windows are double-paned and insulated.” You may pay a little more each month for the updated unit, but you’ll offset those costs when it comes to your monthly bills.

Also, consider the rental’s environment, and take that into account when it comes to total you expect to pay. Will you need to pay extra for parking? Are the streets well lit, or could crime be an issue? Knowing all the extras you might have to pay will make comparison-shopping between rentals easier, and will lessen any regret you could feel down the road.

Take lots of pictures

Every well-lit shot you snap with your camera or phone is one more piece of evidence you’ll have when it comes time to get your deposit back. The ding on the door or scratch on the handrail may have been there when you moved in, but unless you can prove it, unfair agents and owners could pass repair costs on to you.

Don’t be shy

Find a tenant or neighbor after your visit and ask a few questions about their experience. You may discover that the quiet haven you had your eye on is located just down the block from the fire station, or that your neighbors keep the party going well into the morning during finals week.

E-mail your paperwork

After you’ve decided on a rental, send the photos, the rental agreement and any receipts for deposits or rent you paid upfront to the rental agent. That’s your proof that you’ve done your homework, and they’ll know you have it. It may seem tedious during move-in time, but will save you headaches when it you’re looking for your next place!

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