As a renter, whether you’re searching for a new apartment or trying to understand the terms and nuances of your current rental arrangement, there’s a lot of information to consider. With this may come a certain amount of misinformation. Here are some renting myths you may have heard and the truth behind them.
When searching for a new apartment or rental home, you often want to stick within your price range. Keep in mind, though, that the advertised rental price may be negotiable, says MONEY. While this is more likely to be the case when dealing with the landlord of an independently owned rental property, don’t be afraid to ask a property manager or leasing professional of an apartment community if there are any concessions they can offer. While they may not be able to offer a decreased monthly rental payment, they may be able to potentially sweeten the deal in other ways, such as waiving the application fee, security deposit or parking fee or offering one month free if you sign a long-term lease.
This can certainly vary based on the lease agreement you sign, but there is often a way out of a lease, says The Spruce. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask about the property’s lease break policy. Common lease break policies range from a flat penalty fee or equivalent of one month’s rent payment to the forfeiture of your security deposit or the entire rent amount owed through the end of your lease term. Additionally, many states have adopted landlord and tenant acts that allow tenants to break their lease without penalty under specific, clearly outlined instances, adds The Spruce. The Landlord Protection Agency website provides an overview and collection of these state-specific laws and statutes.
While many states have adopted the Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act or enacted their own version of the act that requires landlords to “maintain premises in habitable condition,” it is always a good idea to thoroughly check your individual lease before signing to see exactly what is covered and what is not. It is not uncommon for a landlord to require a tenant to repair or replace items such as broken window blinds or to deduct this cost from the tenant’s security deposit upon move out.
In most cases, renting requires an upfront deposit to cover any costs (beyond normal wear and tear) that are incurred as a result of your tenancy. If you leave your apartment in the same condition in which you moved in (again, minus “normal wear and tear”), then you may be refunded your entire security deposit. However, make sure you’ve read your lease and understand any security deposit and damage addendums that outline what may be deducted from your deposit. Additionally, consider requesting a walkthrough of your apartment with your landlord at the time of move in and move out. Many landlords and property managers provide a rental inspection form for you to fill out detailing the condition of your apartment upon move in. This may help ensure that you cannot be held responsible for any outstanding issues or negative conditions upon move out that occurred or existed prior to your tenancy. Regardless of how your landlord or property manager handles inspections, be sure to conduct your own walkthrough to check for these common problems.
Before you resign yourself to a future of sleepless nights, there are steps that you can take to try and remedy the situation. First, inform your landlord or property manager of the noise issue, ideally in writing, taking care to document each incident going forward. If your landlord is unable or unwilling to remedy the issue, you may consider having a cordial conversation with or delivering a polite note to the offending neighbor making sure to explain why exactly the noise is disruptive, adds Apartment Therapy. Oftentimes, your neighbors are unaware of your schedule and needs or may even be unaware of the level of their disruptiveness altogether.
To help avoid being stuck in an uncomfortable situation with a noisy neighbor, there are a couple of things you can do before you sign a lease. First, whenever possible, aim for a top floor apartment. This will not necessarily eliminate potential noise from neighbors with whom you share walls but may help eliminate the issue of any overhead noise. Second, review your lease for any noise clauses that penalize residents for noise violations, such as this example outlined by The Balance. Finally, you could ask for a noise addendum that grants you the option to either move to another apartment within the building or break your lease without penalty if you find yourself in an unresolvable noisy neighbor situation. Your landlord is under no obligation to provide this type of addendum, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and potentially give yourself a little extra protection.
With the above knowledge on your side, you’ll be able to enter a rental agreement with more confidence in understanding your rights and options as a tenant. One takeaway to keep in mind: when in doubt, always ask your landlord or property manager before making an assumption.