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Tips for Tenants: When Cheaper Rent is Actually More ExpensiveJune 15, 2017
So you’ve found a perfect apartment - you like the interior, the neighborhood and most important - the price. But you should always remember that there are a variety of extra expenses that you may not have taken into account and that may end up emptying your wallet. While comparing rent prices you need to include total operating costs and then double check your decision.
Here are some ideas on what to include:
Very often landlords require an application fee to cover the cost of background and credit checks or other administrative costs. This fee is usually about $10-50 and is nonrefundable, no matter if you’re approved or not. If a landlord requests an application fee higher than that, you can definitely ask them to explain that cost.
Before moving in, you’ll have to pay a security deposit that is usually as much or more than the rent. Most likely, this deposit is refundable, so make sure you document the rentals condition in writing or with photos before moving in, then you won’t have any problems with getting it back when moving out. Note if renters insurance is required then for only a couple bucks more a month you can cover the rental itself and this could convince your landlord to take a much lower deposit.
When filling in the TenantCloud application form, pay attention to the amount of the deposit when viewing the listing on the landlord’s TC website.
Although landlords pay for fire insurance, it doesn’t cover any items owned by tenants. The cost of your personal belongings will just be lost unless you have your own insurance. That’s why it is highly recommended to have renters insurance (some landlords even require you to have it). There are different types of coverage and therefore the price varies as well, usually it is $10-$20 a month.
Some rentals are all-inclusive, meaning that your rent includes the cost of all your utilities. But very often landlords expect you to pay for all or at least some of them. For example, the basic utilities like water and electricity are covered by the landlord, but you still have to pay for internet, television and garbage services. Also, if the landlord covers the cost of utilities they may separate charge you a flat amount each month as a “utility fee.” So find out what all is included before hand.
When using TenantCloud to apply for a rental, you’ll see all the utilities listed and sorted by payments before signing a lease.
Do you have a cat or dog? Don’t forget to ask about pet fees, as you probably will have to pay a one-time fee that’s usually near $250-300 or extra payments tacked on to the rent every month. You will also be required to pay a pet deposit.
Take into account, that if you’re applying via TenantCloud, the information on pet fees and deposit is available on the landlord’s TC website.
Do you have a car? You need to find out where to leave it overnight and if there is an addition “Parking Fee”. If your rental offers free parking then you will want to find out if it is limited and how far away, as you may need to pay for parking anyway. Also, you may want to have a garage so you can mix storage with they car.
If you are like the rest of us and have way too much stuff then you also have a storage unit, so thinking about finding a place close might save you from the added expense of a storage unit. On-site storage can often be added for as little as $10-20/month compared to $50 at a storage unit across town.
Is there a washer and dryer in your rental? If yes, you’ll just have to pay for the clothes detergent and other cleaning products. But if not, prepare to spend extra money for using these machines in a public laundry.
Is there a pool, gym, sauna or any other amenity in your rental? You may be required to pay an access monthly fee even if you don’t use them, so it’s better to ask your landlord about it in advance.
Also, don’t forget about possible seasonal expenses like snow removal or lawn maintenance. If you’re renting an apartment, this cost is usually included in your rent, but if you’re renting a single family home or duplex, most likely you will be responsible for your own outdoor maintenance. That often includes watering the lawn, so higher utility bills in the summer.
Maybe you have encountered any other hidden cost while renting? Let us know in the comments below!