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Most financial advice for renters is about how to split costs between roommates and budget for everyday essentials. These are very important things to know, but they’re not the only financial challenges that you’re going to encounter as a tenant. Here are three more important tips that you should follow:
1. Save for Emergencies
Your landlord is supposed to help you deal with apartment emergencies, but you can’t rely on this technicality. They may not respond to the problem as quickly as you’d like them to — or worse, they could flat-out ignore you.
You can’t live without a working refrigerator for weeks on end. You can’t have a toilet that doesn’t work for days. If your landlord isn’t answering their phone or seems to be slow on the uptake, then you need to be ready to act.
You should be prepared to spend your own money to resolve the issue and get a reimbursement from your landlord later. Start by building yourself an emergency fund so that you can pay for an urgent repair out of pocket.
An emergency fund will take time to build. So, while it’s still in the early stages, you should consider getting yourself a line of credit if you run into an emergency expense. This open-end credit tool makes for an excellent safety net for emergencies. Click here to see how to get a line of credit online and what qualifications you need to apply. Just remember that there are no guarantees of approval. If you’re approved, you could request a withdrawal within your credit limit and have those funds deposited into your bank account right away. It could help you cover that emergency repair and then manage the costs later on.
Remember to get a receipt from the repairperson. You will need to send a copy to your landlord so that they can compensate you.
What if they don’t give you what you’re owed? Your landlord is legally responsible for emergency repairs in the apartment. It’s their property, after all. If you’ve covered the costs of the repairs on your own, they should compensate you. If they don’t do this, as a tenant, you have the right to “repair and deduct” — this means that you can deduct the cost of repairs from your rent.
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2. Decorate Smart
One of the problems that renters have is that they want to decorate their new home in the way that they see fit, but since they don’t own the property, they can’t make any permanent changes. If they decide to go ahead with their makeover plans anyway, they could end up losing their security deposit or pay additional fees when they move out.
You can decorate your apartment without reaping any consequences when you finally move out. You just have to stick to renter-friendly decorations. Renter-friendly decorations are affordable, easy to remove/replace, and won’t do any permanent damage to the property.
These are some examples of renter-friendly changes that you could make:
- Putting contact paper on countertops to make them look like marble or granite.
- Adding more color or pattern to walls with stick-on wallpaper.
- Covering ugly kitchen tiles with stick-on tiles.
- Using tension rods to hang curtains.
- Using adhesive hooks and strips to hang pictures and wall décor without drilling holes in walls
If you happen to make some small nail-holes or screw-holes in the walls, it’s not the end of the world. You can learn how to fill drywall holes so that the surface looks good as new. That will save your landlord from doing the chore when you move out — and help you keep your security deposit.
3. Get Proof
Unfortunately, there are some landlords that will look for an excuse not to give tenants their security deposit back when they decide to move out. They could accuse them of causing damage that was there when they first moved in or say that they made a permanent change without their permission.
One thing that you can do to protect yourself financially and keep your security deposit is to collect evidence that supports your side of the story. If you notice damage around the apartment when you first move in, like scratches on the floor or drill holes in the wall, make a note of it and take photos. If the landlord said it was okay to make permanent changes to the space, like painting your bedroom a different color, you will want to have that permission in writing.
You shouldn’t lose your money because they didn’t fix a problem or forgot what they said to you. If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t deserve to be punished.
These tips will prepare you for some of the big challenges that come with being a tenant. It’s better to be safe than sorry.