If you are entering into a home rental agreement, it’s important to know the ins and outs of how you are expected to conduct yourself, but also the rights that come with being a tenant. Here are some actionable tips that can help.
Keep all communication in writing
When you’re entering into a tenant/landlord relationship, be sure you keep all agreements and communication in writing. Be sure you obtain copies of every document you sign, and whenever possible, request proof that your landlord receives the document by requesting return receipts or signatures on certified mail. If you deliver the document by hand, request that the landlord sign and date the document, or ask a third party to witness the delivery. It’s especially essential to have a written agreement for payment arrangements.
Get receipts for payments made
Landlords are required by state law to provide receipts to tenants for rent or any other payment that is made to them. In addition, you can also document payments made by sending certified mail or photocopying the check or money order before you send it to the landlord. If possible, use money orders or cashier’s checks instead of cash.
Keep documentation of your rental property before and after you move out
Before you move into your rental, take plenty of pictures of the property. Be thorough in your documentation, making sure the pictures were taken with a camera that is able to print the date in the lower right hand corner of the picture. While landlords are not required to complete move-out inspections, you are able to request one, which will allow you to walk through the unit with the landlord and request a copy of a signed inspection report at the end.
Be sure you read the lease in detail
It’s tempting to skim over a lease because you think the “fine print” doesn’t really matter anyway. But if you miss important details, they can come back to bite you later.
Look closely at each section of the lease and ask questions if you need to. If something doesn’t seem right, address it right away. Don’t sign anything that you don’t understand completely, as the landlord will be able to enforce what’s in the lease, as long as it’s not violating any laws. Reading the lease carefully can save you a lot of stress down the road!
Making your relationship work with a landlord is pretty easy… as long as you follow the basic steps needed to ensure you have all your bases covered.