Austin rentals are on the rise, but that doesn't make the process any easier. So you've found the perfect rental online, but haven't yet sealed the deal. We provide the essential information to help you have a seamless transition into your new home. Here are a few tips for first-time tenants to help you avoid the common headaches that come with renting.
Get everything in writing
Avoid headaches by getting your rental agreement in writing, making sure that you read over it in detail before signing off. In addition, keep a printed version of all the correspondence between you and your landlord, and always follow up oral agreements with a written request. For example if you talked to your landlord about a leaky faucet and he agrees to fix it orally, follow up the request in writing confirming the agreement.
Purchase Renters' Insurance
In the event of theft or physical damage, your landlord's insurance policy will not cover your losses. Protect yourself by purchasing renters insurance, which is relatively inexpensive. Some renters' insurance policies will include personal liability coverage if a tenant's guest is personally injured or if a neighbor's property is damaged due to negligence.
Know Your Tenant Rights
Each state has its own statutes regarding tenant rights. If you are moving from abroad, this is something you should definitely study up. For example, landlords cannot withhold your security deposit without a valid reason nor can they charge you for normal wear and tear. Visit the Attorney General's site for all tenant rights including common rental scams and the procedures required to take action on a negligent landlord.
Be Proactive When Moving into a New Place
Protect Your Security Deposit
This is one of the areas where Austin renters should pay extra attention in order to avoid any misunderstandings when you vacate the property. So how do you improve the odds in getting your security deposit back? According to the experts, you should videotape or photograph the apartment before moving in. Pay special attention to existing damage and make sure you have a witness present. Renters should also document any repairs or change made while living in the rental.
Don't Pay Double For Pets
It's not unusual for pet owners to pay extra deposits or increased rent for their pets. Which will depend on your landlord, but smart renters know not to pay twice. Pet owners should pay either a one-time pet deposit or a monthly fee, and in no instance should you have to pay both.
Save Money on Energy Costs
Replace Incandescent Bulbs with CFTs
If utilities aren't included in your monthly rent, lighting is one area where a renter can easily save money on monthly expenses. Replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFT) will save you money in the long run. In fact according to the U.S Energy Star program, each CFT will pay for itself in six months of use. CFTs do cost more up front, but they last 10 times longer, meaning you'll end up buying ten incandescent bulbs for every CFT you purchase.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
If your rental agreement allows, install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature in your home when you are out of the house or sleeping.