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Money Matters

Details You Shouldn’t Overlook When Renting an Apartment for the First Time

Read the fine print!

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Photography: Unsplash/Brandon Griggs

Shelter will always be a need no matter the season, and times of crisis makes it even more a priority. The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the way people moved and worked, but the property rental industry continues to be active, with some trying to move closer to their offices do to transportation woes.

Whether your reason for renting an apartment is personal or professional, and whether it’s for long- or short-term, you’ll need to consider several factors before you sign the lease. Aside from the location, you may want to take note of the following:

Your lessor

It’s important that you and your lessor have the same wavelength, as this will be a relationship that can possibly dictate the satisfaction of your stay. Having an approachable lessor can afford you peace of mind, especially if certain changes and repairs need to be made in the space. Moreover, a good lessor gives reasonable rent rates as well as payment deadlines, which can be a huge load off your shoulders especially during hard times.

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Building facilities and service providers

Does your building have security and a reliable administration office? Does it have fire exits? How about the unit: are there any pests? Did you check the plumbing and electricity? Turn on taps and light switches to see if everything is in order. Ask about internet connectivity: oftentimes, only one or two service providers cater to a building based on the available infrastructure in the area. Check for signal strength before making a decision, especially if an internet connection is a requirement for your job. Since this will be your home for a while, you’ll want to ask your lessor these details.

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Your neighbors

There have been horror stories of people renting out a space only to realize that the neighbors are unapologetically disruptive and noisy. To avoid this, make sure to visit the property a few times to gauge the people you’ll be sharing he floor with. This may save you from sleepless nights in the long run.

Payment terms

Is it a one- or two-month deposit prior to moving in? Do you pay part of your rent every 15 days or are you required to dole out the whole amount once a month? Lessors have ground rules, but you can always negotiate your terms—however, remember to keep your word and do your best not to skip paying your rent. Not only will this build good credit and rapport, but it’ll make your life and finances less complicated.

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Renter's insurance

Home insurance protects property owners in case of natural and man-made disasters, while renter's insurance keeps a lessee's possessions covered.

To apply for renter's insurance, you'll first need to catalogue the items you're planning to bring to your new space as well as the cost of each. “To settle claims faster and verify losses for tax purposes, save receipts and photographs... then store copies in a safe deposit box or other offsite location," explains financial expert Jason Alderman in an Inquirer feature. You'll also want to study your options. “‘Actual cash value’ (ACV) coverage pays the amount needed to repair or replace your belongings, minus depreciation and your deductible, while ‘replacement cost’ coverage pays the amount needed to replace the items … minus deductible.” You may also want to look intoloss-of-use coverage should you need to suddenly vacate your place.

Do consider, however, the amount of time you'll be spending in your rental. If your space is only temporary and you're not planning on making it your main address, then you most probaly aren't going to bring in all your possessions—that being the case, a full insurance coverage may be a bit over the top. Feel free to ask insurance institutions about other more flexible options if you wish to be sure. 

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The fine print

Before signing the contract, always read the fine print. Review the document, and if you can, ask a trusted friend to read it as well just to double check that you’re getting a fair deal. List down any questions you may have and run them through your lessor. It’s always important to be aware of your rights as a tenant as well as the responsibilities of the person renting the space out to you.

Once you’ve signed the contract, always have a copy in your care. Place all important documents in a clear book so that in case you need to review them, they’re easily accessible.

Happy home hunting!

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