Simple Mistakes All Renters Must Avoid

Story Highlights
  • #1 - Renting the property without a viewing
  • #2 - Signing the lease without carefully reading it
  • #3 - Not recording existing damage before moving in
  • #4 - Assuming the landlord will fix everything
  • #5 - Not paying attention to the rules

Renting is a great solution if you don’t have enough capital to buy a home, or if you are just looking for a temporary residence.

Just because it isn’t such a huge financial risk as buying a house, there are still a few important mistakes that you may want to avoid.

Over time, long-time renters know that problems will arise and that mistakes can very easily be made. Don’t let the excitement of finding a new place blind you.

Here are five things that you should avoid so that you can make a clear decision when you rent:

Mistake #1 – Renting the property without a viewing

It might seem like an obvious mistake, but many renters simply look at online photos, read the description, and decide that they will sign the lease contract.

This is the worst thing you can do as a renter as the chances are quite high that you will have overlooked something and disappointment won’t be far away (that’s assuming you didn’t fall for professional con artists).

Always make sure that the property actually exists and that it looks the way it does in the photos (no kidding, yet many stories out there of tenants arriving at some total stranger’s door who’s never heard of your supposed rental agent!). It is too easy nowadays to mislead people with things like Photoshop and filters in existence. 

Mistake #2 – Signing the lease without carefully reading it

Another big mistake that renters make is not properly reading the lease before signing it.

You might dismiss it because you don’t understand all the legal talk but it is still important that you go through it, even if you have to get someone to help you.

As soon as you sign the document, you are agreeing to whatever it stipulates. How can you agree to something if you don’t know what you are agreeing to?

Why not ask the rental agent for a copy of the lease agreement ahead of time, so you can go through it (yourself and/or with a more knowledgeable friend)?

The lease states important information like the lease duration, the move-in date, the rent, and what your responsibilities as a tenant will be. This is valuable information that you cannot go without. 

Mistake #3 – Not recording existing damage before moving in

Before you start arranging furniture and hanging photos, you need to do a proper walkthrough to see what the place looks like. Most of the time, the rental agent (and sometimes, the landlord) will accompany you.

This way, you will see if the place has already been damaged by previous tenants and you can write it down. Writing down prior damage puts you in a good position when you want to claim back your security deposit.

After all, there is evidence that you didn’t cause the damage and the landlord can’t turn around and accuse you of neglecting or damaging the property. 

Mistake #4 – Assuming the landlord will fix everything

This is another important reason why you should read the lease agreement.

It should state who is responsible for maintaining the rental property, and which parts are in/excluded.

Don’t assume that the landlord will fix everything. It is not always the case that the landlord is entirely responsible for repairs. They might feel that you should contribute to repairs if you are going to stay there.

The best thing would be to discuss this with the landlord before moving into the unit. This way any confusion (and potential conflict) will be avoided. 

Mistake #5 – Not paying attention to the rules

There are rules that you are going to have to follow that go over and above the lease agreement. Besides the legal list, some of these rules might be decided upon by the landlord (or the body corporate if you are living in a complex).

Many tenants simply ignore these rules or try and take their chances.

If the rules state that there are no pets allowed, don’t try and sneak a kitten onto the property. If you are caught out, you will be fined, or you could even be evicted. These rules will be stated in the lease, but if it is not, make sure to ask for a copy of the rules when moving in. 

Bottom line: tenants don’t want horrible landlords and likewise, landlords also aren’t looking for horrible tenants.

Why not follow the above tips and aim for that friendly relationship with your landlord?

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