Reasons You Need Renter’s Insurance  

Smiling happy couple holding a little house on their handsRenters insurance works like your own personal safety net. It can help you save on big expenses — and help you from dealing with a lot of headaches. Yet, a lot of renters skip getting a renter’s insurance policy because they just assume they don’t need one. It doesn’t matter if you are a first time renter or you have rented for decades, everyone needs renters insurance.

Landlord Insurance Policies Don’t Cover Everything

Most renters just assume that the policies their landlords have will cover everything. But just because the landlord owns the building doesn’t mean their insurance policy covers your belongings inside the apartment. Yes, their policies often cover the building and damage to that building — but not your personal items inside that building. So, if disaster strikes you might not have to pay for the repairs, but you’ll pay to replace everything you owned.

Renters Insurance Covers a Lot

Renters insurance gives you blanket coverage in a lot of situations — including fire, robbery, vandalism, etc. While some policies exclude things like earthquakes and floods, others do include them. You’ll want a plan that covers all of your bases — including negligent damages from a neighbor — so that you don’t have to pay for any repairs or replacements.

Fires Are Common in Apartments

While the entire building might not go down in flames, fires are more common in apartment buildings than in homes. That is because you have multiple tenants cooking and doing other activities that could result in a fire. If a neighbor accidentally sets the wall you share on fire, it could destroy the room adjacent to them — and if you don’t have renters insurance, you’ll still have to pay to replace your items.

Renters Insurance Covers Other Stuff Too

Depending on your policy, your renters insurance could also cover hotel costs while your apartment is being repaired, might cover items in your car if they’re stolen, etc. A good renter’s insurance policy protects you in multiple situations — and limits how much you have to pay out of pocket.

It’s Cheap

Renters insurance is exceptionally cheap. In fact, most renters don’t even pay more than $10 per month for their policy, but they’re 100 percent covered.

If you have been avoiding renters insurance, now is the time to reconsider. It’s affordable and when you consider how much you would pay out of pocket to replace your items, a few bucks per month is well worth the investment.

May 2014

Tips for Dealing with Bad Neighbors

For RentIn an apartment complex, you have many neighbors to deal with. It’s likely you’re sharing a wall (or two), floor and ceiling with other people. It doesn’t matter how great the apartment is, there will come a time you have to deal with your neighbors — and not in a good way. But before you storm over there ready to share your opinion, take in these tips for dealing with your difficult neighbors. 

What Does the Lease Say?

Some leases have strict noise restrictions. If your neighbors are being loud past 10:00pm and your lease restricts that, bring it up with your property owner. It is important to point out lease violations to your property owner, because if there is ever an issue between the other tenant and yourself, you will already have proof they have violated their rental contract.

See If the Other Neighbors Agree

Ask the other, non-offending neighbors if they have the same concerns as you do. While you might be annoyed, it might not be something that is bothering all of your neighbors. By making sure you’re justified, you can avoid any headaches when you do confront your neighbor.

Always Be Nice

Your neighbor might be annoying you, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it intentionally or even realize they are annoying you. Sometimes all it takes is a polite confrontation with your neighbor to let them know how much they are bugging you. They may even hear out your concerns and fix the problem — but if you walk in there rude and ready to fight, it is unlikely you’ll get very far.

Are You Noisy Too?

Before you start going around and accusing your neighbors of being annoying, make sure you’re not equally loud and disruptive to your neighbors.

Get the Landlord Involved

After you have discussed the issue with your neighbor and the problem is not resolved, the next step is to tell your landlord. Give them a call and discuss your concerns with them. This is a good time to point out any lease violations, but also let them know you have already spoken to the neighbor with no results.

Write It All Down

Every time you have a noise disturbance or you speak to your neighbor about it, write it down. If you discuss it with your landlord, write that down too. This is important. Because if your property owner doesn’t take action against the disturbances, you may have a case for breaking your lease, but you need accurate documentation to prove your case.

How to Make Sure You Get the Apartment You Want

couple at their new empty apartmentYou have finally found that perfect apartment, but if you don’t have all of your ducks in a row, you could miss out on actually getting the perfect apartment. Just because you have found one you like doesn’t mean it’s yours. In fact, that’s far from reality. There are other applicants just as interested, the place could have some mechanical issues or there might be a gross neighbor next door you don’t know about. So, before you assume you got it, make sure you take the right steps to getting it.

If You Like It, Ask for an Application Immediately

You’ve walked through and you’re ready to get that apartment, but make sure you get an application. Most applications come with fees, which can range from $10 to $50 depending on the apartment building. Don’t be pressured into filling out an application by the landlord though — sometimes they tell you there is someone else applying just to speed up the process and fill the vacancy.

Fill Out the Application Right

The application is long, and you might not have the time to do it, but don’t skip anything on that application. You need to get your application in and approved before someone else does. Because, landlords only care about who is ready to pay and move in right now — not who needs to get their stuff together first. Fill it out entirely and supply any other information required. You may want to check with the landlord about credit requirements before even applying — most will tell you their minimum credit score for applicants.

Read the Rental Agreement

Just because you’re approved doesn’t mean you have the apartment — nothing is finalized until the lease is signed and you have keys in your hand. You need to read the rental agreement thoroughly, because it is a binding contract. Read things about how maintenance is handled, your security deposit, special charges that can be added to your rent, etc. Then, before you sign, inspect the apartment. While they are supposed to tell you about what is wrong with the apartment, not all landlords are known for their honesty. A few things to check before signing:

  • Do the toilets flush?
  • Do all of the lights work?
  • Does the refrigerator and stove work?
  • Does the door lock tightly?
  • Is there mold present anywhere in the building?
  • Do you see flaking paint?

Write down anything you see and make sure the landlord knows about it. While you might lose an apartment because you require the landlord to fix something before you sign a lease, be thankful. Because you wouldn’t have wanted to live in an apartment where the landlord wasn’t honest or willing to do routine repairs.

May 2014

Do You Know Your First Apartment Must-Haves?

Happy young woman unpacking boxes in new homeSearching for your first apartment is exciting. You’re about to move out on your own (or with roommates) and get out of the parent’s house. You know you want space, perhaps even an extra room, built-in laundry and parking. But, you’re not rich, so how do you decide what amenities really matter and which can wait for a future apartment?

Decide the Roommate Situation

You can’t look at apartments without deciding who you will be living with. If you are living alone, you will be spending a lot more each month on all of those flashy amenities you want. If, however, you are looking to have a roommate or two, you can probably afford a nicer apartment with all of the bells and whistles — because rent is being shared. But, you still need to find out what amenities everyone you will live with want too, which means coming to an agreement that makes it all work out.

Where Do You Want to Live?

For some renters, it is all about the neighborhood. But, some neighborhoods come with a larger price tag than others. Therefore, consider the area, what it has to offer and if it’s worth the price or not. The neighborhood you live in is just as much of an amenity as the swimming pool, dishwasher or extra storage you’re looking for in your apartment.

Think of the Layout

How private of a space do you really want? This is especially important if you’re living with roommates. Are the bedrooms enough space from the common areas so that roommates won’t bother each other? How open is the living space? While an open floor plan might be fun, it leaves little privacy — especially if you aren’t living alone.  At the same time, a closed off, private floor plan means less space and a cramped feel.

What Amenities Can You Not Live Without

There are a lot of amenities you can get with your apartment, but what amenities can you really not live without? Will you go crazy without a dishwasher? Would you feel unsafe without a doorman? Make a list of the things that wouldn’t damper your stay in that apartment — or even make you feel uncomfortable. Then, use the other amenities as “possible or would be nice” instead of “must haves”.

Take a Look at Some Apartments

You know how much you can afford. Start browsing some apartments in your price range to see what type of stuff is offered. You might find dishwashers in one, but larger bedrooms in another. You can see what you may have to trade off to get the right neighborhood, floor plan and living space you need.

May 2014

Ready to Move to a Smaller Apartment? A Few Tips for Making the Transition

Happy couple carrying boxes moving into new home apartment houseDownsizing an apartment can prove to be very beneficial — not only will you save on rent, but you’ll save on utilities and reduce the clutter. But, making the transition from a larger apartment to a smaller one still takes a little work. You have a lot of decisions to make, like whether or not to put your excess in storage for a bigger home down the road, sell it or donate it. The challenge will be downsizing your life in general; that way everything fits into your new, more affordable space.

Keep What You Really Love, Get Rid of the Rest

When you’re downsizing, you want to maximize the savings benefits. If you have to pay a monthly storage fee for a storage unit, you’re really not saving that much money. So, downsize everything and only keep what you really love and cannot live without. These times can be stored in a smaller unit or might even fit in the new place — that way you don’t have to spend extra money just to save money.

Declutter Your Closet

Many people have a closet full of clothes that they rarely wear. Use the time for downsizing as an opportunity to get rid of all of those clothes you don’t use. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it is likely you won’t wear it again — so donate it, give it to a friend or sell it online if you can.

Get Furniture That Has Multiple Functions

When you have a smaller unit, you need furniture that doesn’t take up space without offering some sort of function. Find furniture that has multiple uses, such as a small table that can extend into something bigger; a couch that folds out into a bed; an ottoman that has secret storage. The more double-duty your furniture is, the easier it will be to squeeze into less square footage.

Declutter Before You Pack

There’s no point in moving everything to the new place before you downsize it. Instead, go through everything before you pack and decide what will go, what will be donated and what can be thrown away. This not only means less boxes to carry on moving day, but less hassle when it comes time to pack.

Decide How Much Space You Really Want

You have a smaller unit, so how much of that space do you want your personal items to take up? The more cluttered your rooms are, the less space you will feel like you have. So, if you can, try to maximize the space by not cluttering the new apartment — that might mean getting rid of more furniture and personal items that you initially thought.

May 2014