Thinking of renting a home? Here are a few basics you might want to know….
1. Tenant Representation Services: You can hire an agent to represent you and I do offer this form of agency. It carries with it all the same important components of any agency relationship, the most important of which (in my opinion) are the duties of confidentiality and the agent always working in your interest. This means that you can and should “lay your cards on the table” with your tenant agent. If you have pets, credit concerns or past rental history issues, you should tell your agent. They can’t advise you or represent you well without having a good understanding of your situation.
2. Typical Leases: For the types of rentals I work with, usually there is a minimum lease term of a year (although there are exceptions). Most will require a security deposit, many landlords will consider pets on a case by case basis – but prefer tenants without pets. Most leases require a 30-60 day notice at the end of the lease term, and do not offer any type of clause to allow you to break the lease without penalty during the lease term (except, of course, what is required by the Soldiers & Sailors Act). If renting a home with a yard, expect that the landlord will want you to maintain that yard. When renting from a private landlord, you may also have other minor maintenance duties like changing your HVAC filters, replacing batteries in smoke detectors, etc. Many landlords also incorporate a deductible for maintenance related items. So if the air conditioning fails or a toilet is stopped up, even if it is not your fault, you may have to pay a deductible for the repair of $50-100, and the lease further requires that you MUST report anything that breaks so it doesn’t further damage the home. Some of these things may be negotiable, so be sure to read the lease and talk with your agent about concerns.
3. Application: In a typical lease transaction, the tenant should expect to pay an application fee of $40-50 per adult (usually money orders or certified checks are required for this), plus have to complete an application, permit their credit to be pulled, and offer rental references and income/asset verification, and in some cases permit a criminal background check. The application will also address things like automobiles, pets and who will be living in the home, and all adults are expected to submit an application. Private landlords are usually stricter than rental communities about the number of occupants, pets, and creditworthiness of tenants.
4. Costs: In addition to application fees, tenants should be prepared to provide a deposit equal to one months rent with the application. At move in, the tenant should be prepared to pay a full month’s rent even if moving in after the first of the month. Any prorated rent is usually charged on the first of the following month, if applicable. If you have pets, expect to pay an additional deposit and possibly a monthly fee for each pet. As mentioned in #2 above, there may be maintenance related fees.
5. Fees for Brokerage Services: There is usually no charge directly paid by the tenant for tenant representation. This is usually offered from the landlord via the listing agent. There are exceptions to this, which should be discussed with your agent.