The most expensive decision most of us will ever make is buying a house. That’s why I always recommend making sure that you’re out of debt and have a nice down payment before taking the plunge into a mortgage.
If that’s your situation, then renting is the way to go until you build a strong foundation with your money. That doesn’t mean renting a house or apartment will come without potential pitfalls. But with a little planning ahead, you can avoid these problems before they pop up.
Here are four mistakes to watch out for when you’re renting:
Picking a Bad Roommate
If you’re single, having a roommate is a great way to cut costs on your living expenses. But that means when you’re looking for a roommate, you must choose wisely. Good friends don’t always make good roommates. You want someone who can be counted on to pay their portion of the bills on time, who helps around the house, and who doesn’t bring visitors in at all hours of the night.
Not Asking Questions Before You Sign
How much is your deposit? Is it refundable? What are your options if you have to break the lease early? You don’t need to be a contract lawyer to ask a few basic questions. The point is to know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.
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Failing to Get Renter’s Insurance
It’s very cheap, and it’s a huge mistake if you don’t get it. If something happens, like a flood or a fire, renter’s insurance will cover all your stuff. Depending on what you own, the coverage will usually cost you less than $20 a month. And if something goes wrong, that will be money well spent!
Not Taking Pictures at Move In
Grab your phone and take some photos of each room. This is a quick and easy way to cover yourself from losing a security deposit or even paying extra when you move out. If your landlord hasn’t fixed some of the problems from a previous tenant, like a crack in the bathroom mirror or a small hole behind the guest-room door, you shouldn’t be responsible for that damage. With a few photos, you’ll make sure you aren’t.
Any extra money you can keep in your pocket is more cash to put toward a down payment on a mortgage. Pay attention to the small stuff and you’ll go a long way toward saving yourself from a renter’s headache (is that a thing?) down the line.