Six Must-Dos As A Responsible Renter

This guest post comes to you courtesy of Tali Wee of Zillow – enjoy!

Renting an apartment or single-family home requires renters to make short-term commitments. Just as landlords are responsible for maintaining their rental properties, tenants are obligated to fulfill the terms of their leases.

Considering renting a home? Review these six duties before signing a lease.

1. Explore Options

Renters have a variety of living options at their fingertips. Search rental properties within a specific budget, desired location and size. Check out reviews on different property management companies before visiting the apartments. Previous tenants can give more information than a biased listing description. Whatever the process, avoid wasting everyone’s time by visiting unlikely properties.

2. Understand the Lease

It’s easy to skim over the terms and conditions when in a rush to finalize the moving process. However, there may be certain stipulations and rules not outlined in a typical lease. Renters need to make sure they understand pet policies, deposit fees, move-in regulations, rent due dates and other provisions. Make sure the lease follows state guidelines. Some landlords use general forms from the internet which don’t always follow state-specific regulations. Regardless of building location, landlords are always liable for negligence and repairs. Further, landlords do not have the right to seize personal property due to a missed rent payment. Keep an eye out for contradictions of these standard laws in the lease agreement before signing, as this can be a strong indicator of an inexperienced or unethical landlord.

3. Buy Insurance

Some renters believe because they don’t own property, they don’t need insurance to cover potential damages. Without renters insurance, any damage to personal possessions lies with the leaseholder. A renter has no control over the condition of the plumbing, foundation and general structure of a property. If a pipe bursts or the roof leaks, all furniture and belongings are in danger of damage. While natural disasters are unforeseeable by anyone, renters are smart to protect their belongings with insurance just in case. Renters insurance also protects renters if they accidentally damage the property. For instance, if the renter left a candle burning that started a fire, the insurance would pay for fire damages to the building.

4. Know Privacy Rights

Generally, landlords cannot enter an occupied property without proper notice. The warning time period varies by state. According to the Tenant Survival Guide of Washington, D.C., landlords have a “right of entry” to inspect for repairs and conduct showings, but can only request access at a sensible time. The current tenant has the right to object based on schedule conflicts. These regulations are dismissed in cases of emergency or a court order.

5. Pay on Time

Obviously, if finances are in order, a timely rent payment shouldn’t be an issue. However, medical emergencies or the loss of a job may interfere with a lessee’s ability to pay rent and utilities. In this case, try to negotiate a partial or delayed payment. Landlords are more likely to grant renters extra time if they’re upfront about the situation, especially if renters have been punctual with dues in the past. Offer to pay partial rent on the due date and be prepared for a late fee.

6. Communicate with Property Management

Discuss problems as they arise during the rental period. It’s better to be open and honest with a landlord than trying to hide issues, which can potentially lead to a withheld deposit. If some of the lease terms are unfair, attempt to renegotiate. Never try to hide a pet or extended-stay guest from a landlord. Once property management discovers a break in the contract, they have the right to reserve the deposit or even evict tenants.

These six steps are the basics to being a responsible renter. Cleanliness and decent behavior is expected from tenants, just as organization and follow-through is expected of landlords. Renting is a two way street; tenants should treat the property with the respect as if they owned it themselves in order to have a positive renting experience.

Friday Catch-Up #1

In an effort to share more of the writing that I’m doing, but not doing here,  I’m starting a new weekly series called Friday Catch-Up. I also want to get better about doling out shout-outs to some of my favorite bloggers, so included in every Friday Catch-Up will be 3 of my pieces and 5 articles from other writers. Enjoy!

This week I wrote about:

This week I enjoyed reading about:

Happy weekend reading :)

 

I Hereby Declare That I Am No Longer Spending Money On Weight Loss Products

I, like many women my age, have a long history with dieting.

I’ll spare you all the boring details, but I’ve essentially been on (or cheating on) one diet or another since I was about 14. Some have worked, some haven’t. But obviously, since I’m still unhappy with my weight, nothing has produced lasting results. Shocking, I know.

As a reasonably intelligent person, I’m not completely clear on why I continue trying diet after diet – after the first couple, shouldn’t I have realized that they’re bogus? On an intellectual level, I suppose I do know that this is true. But I guess I’m vain. Or maybe I’m oppressed by a culture that demands that women be thin in order to be desirable, worthy, and socially accepted. You decide.

Anyway, this year, like so many years before, I resolved that I would lose weight. Since I’ve experimented with nearly every commercial diet out there save for a handful, I decided that I’d try one of the few that I haven’t been on before. I won’t name names, but this diet involves drinking weight-loss shakes in the place of meals.

Today was the first day. The results? I have a horrible, terrible stomachache. Like, I actually considered leaving work early because I was in so much pain. I also have a chemical taste in my mouth that won’t go away, and I feel light-headed and a little dizzy. Sounds great, right?

Believe it or not, I’ve actually felt much, much worse than this on the first day of a diet and have been able to soldier on for weeks. But, for reasons I can’t really explain, today is different. Today, on my way home from school, hunched over from stomach pains and trying to focus on the road, I decided that I have had enough.

I am done with weight loss products, programs, subscriptions, and “information.” I can’t promise I’ll never try to lose weight again, but I am seriously, 100% done with spending money on stuff that’s supposed to make me lose weight. I just can’t anymore with this stuff. I just can’t.

This blog isn’t about emotions so let’s talk about why, financially, I’m so done with diet products: simply put, I’m fucking sick and tired of throwing my money down a rat hole that does nothing but make me miserable. I have no clue how much cash I’ve spent on trying to whittle my waistline over the years, but I’d estimate that it’s in the thousands of dollars.

Do you know how much that pisses me off? Thousands of dollars, you guys. And what did I get for that money? Stomachaches, headaches, boring nights that I didn’t go out with my friends, tears, ridicule, and a hell of a lot of shitty, unsatisfying food. Oh and, lots of wasted stuff. Like right now – what am I going to do with all those shakes I won’t be drinking? Talk about pouring money down the drain – literally!

So that’s it. I hereby declare that I am no longer spending money on anything related to weight loss. My wallet (and my psyche) has undergone years and years of diet-related damage, and there’s no way to get that cash back. But I am damn sure I’m done making the problem worse.

2014

Long time, no blog! I once again let my little corner of the Internet fall by the wayside, but I hope at least a few of you out there are still reading because I promise 2014 will be a better year for me in terms of posting :)

I’ve given my goals for 2014 a lot of thought, especially after the financial and emotional roller coaster that was 2013. With that being said, the five things below are what I want to accomplish in 2014; they are modest, but meaningful to me.

Also, some of my goals may seem vague here, but rest assured they’re not. I just don’t want to be too public about some of what I’m working on – at least not yet.

1. Max out my Roth IRA. BONUS: Move my account to Vanguard.

2. Continue building my freelance career. BONUS: Share more of my freelance work here and on social media, and be more consistent about sharing others’ work, too.

3. Decide what’s next for me career-wise.

4. Read at least 30 books.

5. Avoid using the word “should,” especially when I’m talking about myself.

Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope we all have a happy and healthy 2014!