As the seasons change to spring and summer it marks the high season for moving and searching for a new apartment. Many view it as a time of excitement that they will find a better for the prefect apartment. Unfortunately many renters make crucial mistakes in their apartment hunt that doom them into a bad situation or miserable experience that they are locked into for the next year. Here are the 4 most common mistakes we see that renters make when choosing a new apartment.
1. Overlooking the inclusion of Washers and Dryers
While many amenities such as a pool or rec room can be a fun addition to the apartment building or community that you choose, they aren’t a huge concern. However, many new renters forget to take into consideration the inclusion of a washer and dryer in the apartment or at least hook-ups for these appliances. For fun I checked out the situation apartment wise in my hometown of Saratoga Springs for apartments that had a washer or dryer in the apartment. When it came to apartments in Saratoga, there were only 10 to choose from!
Choosing an apartment that has only a common area laundry solution can lead to many headaches, especially if you live an larger building where the number of tenants per washer/dryer is upwards of 10. This can lead to needing to visit a laundry mat to get your clothes washed when you want and frustration you did not plan for. Beyond this, even if the availability is not limited be sure to consider the cost to use a communal laundry as this can easily add $50 or more per month to your expenses that you may not have considered and put you over budget.
2. Not Reading the Lease
You may think you’ve found the perfect apartment, the location is great, price is in your range and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. You sit down in the leasing office and in a fit of excitement fly through the lease to get your new great apartment! Problem is that in this excitement, nearly everyone completely overlooks their lease and simply signs immediately, which can lead to disaster. Getting out of a bad lease is possible, but its often a pain in the neck to say the least and can come with large financial penalties.
When presented with a lease be sure to review it for a few key items:
- Length of the Lease
- Date when rent is due
- Security Deposit Amount
- Rules for Subleasing
- Financial Responsibility for Utilities
For more tips on understanding your apartments lease, check out this article on WikiHow.com
3. Not documenting Existing Damage in Detail
When moving in you may want to speed things up and get all your items into the apartment ASAP, however if you value your security deposit you may be making a huge mistake. Prior to moving anything into the apartment it’s highly imperative that any damage or blemishes in the apartment are documented. Be sure to thoroughly go over the apartment with the landlord or property manager and document all damage. Ensure that both the you and the landlord sign this document so that any existing damage can not be claimed against you. It can also be a good idea to go the extra mile and take photos to document the damage or problem areas in the unit. Ensure that these photos have a timestamp. This can be extra important if their is damage that the landlord agrees to repairs. If a landlord does make this claim be sure that these repairs are outlined in writing before signing the lease to legally be able to hold the landlord accountable if they refuse to make repairs in the future.
4. Getting over your Head
Far too many people don’t stick to their budget or even make once when choosing an apartment. It can be easy to visit an apartment and fall in love with it and end up trying to justify the monthly rent after the fact, which can lead you to making a poor decision financially. The general rule is to spend no more than 30% of your take home (after tax) income, however we recommend staying lower than this in nearly every situation. Be sure to take into account all of your fixed expenses and ensure that you have enough money to account for leisure spending as well as reserve cash in case of emergencies. Student Loan Hero has a great article on this topic that you can check out here: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/how-much-should-i-spend-on-rent-when-to-buy