|Written by Uchenna Ihejirika|
A direct consequence of the surge in home foreclosures following the current economic meltdown is an increase in the number of would be renters as against potential homeowners. The recent stringent mortgage loan process has deferred and excluded a sizeable number of potential homeowners from securing approval for mortgage loans. The obvious implication and realistic option for such people who lose their homes or are unable to meet the requirements for loan approval would be to secure a rental apartment.
For the prospective renter, every dollar saved goes a long way towards meeting other needs in our current cash strapped economy. The keyword is to be as smart and wise in every financial decision and commitment. In addition to taking necessary measures to reduce the cost of renting, you should explore every reasonable avenue to eliminate problems and complications associated with renting.
Always endeavor to get the most favorable deal. Rents are open to negotiations, so seize the initiative to negotiate for what you can afford to pay. It doesnā€™t make economic sense to stretch your entire earnings and budget on rents alone. Explain your position to the landlord without necessarily presenting yourself as some kind of potential liability. Landlords are always willing to accommodate tenants who would always be on time with their rents and not necessarily those who make the highest offer.
It is important that you read through and understand the terms of your lease before signing it. Most people sign their lease agreements without going through the contents only to discover thereafter that they have agreed to and accepted some unfair and unrealistic demands and clauses. Find out from your state or county consumer affairs office about the rental laws. Be sure to confirm what the lease says about keeping pets, roommates and such heavy duty electrical devices as washing machine, thread mill etc.
You should ensure that all transactions and agreements are documented. Inform your landlord if you have or intend to have roommates and make sure they are on the lease. This will ensure equitable distribution of legal obligations and responsibilities amongst all parties to the contract. If there is a demand for security deposit as is always the case, be sure to obtain a receipt. In some states, the landlord is required to put the money in an interest yielding account for which the accrued interest and the deposit (less deductions for damage) is returned to the tenant at the end of tenancy. A prospective tenant would need to know the applicable terms and conditions on the security deposit.
You should know your rights as a tenant and ensure that such rights are not violated. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and familial status. You should also find out the position of your state or county law on matters of tenant ejection. Always ask for clarification and interpretation on clauses that are not clear to you as this will save you time and resources in litigations and court appearances.