There are numerous advantages to renting your home, but it can also place you in an extremely vulnerable position if you fall victim to one of the many potential pitfalls inherent in the property rental process. No renters can afford to make any of the following detrimental mistakes:
Not reading the lease
One of the most common mistakes renters make is failing to thoroughly read the terms of their lease agreement. People oftentimes forget that their lease is a legally binding contract, and the words in that document that occur before your signature can have a major impact on your life. And ignorance of the terms of your lease will never be an effective defense against penalties or eviction if you fail to abide by the terms of the lease. You must ALWAYS read and reread every word of your lease agreement BEFORE signing. If you are worried about understanding the complex legal jargon, it is never a bad idea to have an attorney review the lease for you to ensure it is fair and reasonable.
Not following your lease
As previously mentioned, your failure to be aware of the rules and requirements laid out in your rental contract is not going to be a sufficient defense when you violate those rules or fail to fulfill your obligations. When you violate the terms of your lease—sometimes even by committing a seemingly minor infraction—it could give your landlord the legal cause he or she needs to evict you or take other actions against you. Always adhere strictly to the terms of your lease, and if you need an exception to be made, make sure to get your landlord’s approval IN WRITING.
Not documenting defects when you move in
The very first thing you should do after signing your lease and before moving anything into your new residence is to walk through the property looking for any signs of defects or damage. Document everything you find, no matter how minor it may seem. The point of taking this step is to ensure that later on you cannot be blamed for causing damage or defects that already existed on the property before you move in. If you fail to document these issues before moving in, it will almost always be presumed that you caused the problem later on, and you will not have any proof to show otherwise.
Renting sight unseen
If at all possible, you should never sign a lease agreement without physically visiting the property and walking through the residence, as well as taking a look around the neighborhood and surrounding areas. There are some scenarios where it may be impossible to do this, but you should always strive to conduct a walkthrough before making a legal commitment to live somewhere. Photos and videos will never accurately capture the true physical condition of the property, nor will they alert you to unpleasant smells. You need to view the property in person to take measure of all the important details and nuances which may have a major impact on your satisfaction with the home.
Not maintaining renter’s insurance
There is really no excuse for not purchasing renter’s insurance coverage. There are innumerable benefits afforded by this easy-to-obtain coverage, and it is one of the most affordable forms of insurance that exist. Your landlord will have to maintain coverage on the property itself, but that does not protect your own personal property if something were to happen. Every renter should maintain renter’s insurance coverage at all times!
As a renter, it is essential that you know and understand your rights. Avoid the common mistakes mentioned above, and for any and all of your renter’s insurance needs, please do not hesitate to contact your local landlord-tenant attorney, Judith Delus Montgomery, to ensure that your rights as a renter/tenant aren’t being violated!
Documenting ongoing issues in the property
In the state of Georgia is it always important that you document in writing any defects in the home (i.e. leaks, mold, septic tank, HVAC, etc). Simply calling the maintenance hotline or property manager office will not ensure that your concerns are documented. In most leases in the State of Georgia, it instructs all maintenance issues be in writing. For your protection make sure that you text, email, or write a letter and send to the property manager certified mail to ensure in the future you have sufficient evidence to prove the ongoing issues in the property and the landlord’s failure to reasonably address these concerns in a proper amount of time. This will make a difference if or when you decide to contact our office for a landlord/tenant lawsuit and avoid these and other renters mistakes!