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How to be a wise renter?

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I'm about to move and rent a new room in a large victorian house near campus.  The house will be owner occupied and there will be several unrelated people renting rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors.  We will all have our own bedrooms, but we will share a kitchen and bathroom if that matters.  My question is, What should I do in order to be a wise renter?  Should I buy renters insurance before signing the lease?  How does one shop for renters insurance?  (Excuse my ignorance.)  Should I check on the property and landlord in some way?  Anything else?

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Seconded. 

I moved into an apartment last February, it's the upper half of a house. Got new downstairs neighbors two week... (more)

st4rdust (Aug. 01, 2017 @ 12:07p) |

having two isn't going to help if the CO doesn't reach either of them. Maybe donate one to the basement or hallway?

rufflesinc (Aug. 01, 2017 @ 12:32p) |

Sorry, forgot to mention that -- the second one is on the landing near the stairs from the basement to my apt.

st4rdust (Aug. 01, 2017 @ 1:01p) |

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What possessions will you have to insure?

There probably isn't much due diligence you can do. 

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1. buy a new lock for your door
2. If you have 'grazer' roommates you might need to keep your food / dishes in your room
3. If you roommate is a 'captain commando', then your landlord might have to get involved.
4. Get some earmuffs to muffle out the sex sounds.

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Make sure that the lease states that if your roommate(s) move out, you're not responsible for paying their share of the rent. We've seen that come up before. Also, your auto insurance carrier most likely sells renter's insurance.

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Renter insurance is like $10 a month get it though your auto insurance and you usually can get a multi policy discount making it almost free.  Don't skimp on liability if you leave the burner on and cause a fire you don't want to wipe out your life saving getting sued.
Pay for rent with a check or money order don't use cash since you have no proof of payment.

 

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BrianGa said:   What possessions will you have to insure?

There probably isn't much due diligence you can do. 

  
Not much.  Clothes, a computer, a phone, video game consoles, textbooks, lol!

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Hypersion said:   Pay for rent with a check or money order don't use cash since you have no proof of payment.You can pay with cash. Just have the landlord provide a receipt.

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Speaking from experience here:
- Sign a lease and learn your state's tenant/landlord rules
- Set rules and stay firm from the get go.
- Don't get too close with other tenants or they will become a nuisance.
- Keep your personal belongings in your room only.
- Might want to look into a mini-fridge if other tenants steal your food.
- Be respectful, clean, and pay on time.

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forbin4040 said:   
4. Get some earmuffs to muffle out the sex sounds.

  Or don't, if you're in to that kind of thing. 

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qcumber98 said:   Hypersion said:   Pay for rent with a check or money order don't use cash since you have no proof of payment.You can pay with cash. Just have the landlord provide a receipt.
And, since everyone has a cell phone these days, immediately take a picture of the receipt.

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check your room has smoke alarm and it works, and windows work   . safety first

Your basic keyed lock is easy to jimmy with a credit card and your LL might not be hot to install a deadbolt on inside door. If you paranoid about people going into your room, get a wifi camera

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Hypersion said:   Renter insurance is like $10 a month get it though your auto insurance and you usually can get a multi policy discount making it almost free.  Don't skimp on liability if you leave the burner on and cause a fire you don't want to wipe out your life saves getting sued.
Pay for rent with a check or money order don't use cash since you have no proof of payment.

 

it doesnt sound like there is either:

a) enough possessions to warrant insurance, or
b) enough savings to warrant protecting them (given the college student status) - obviously YMMV, OP could have a trust fund or something

obviously (b) doesnt apply if your parents cosign, but that's another thread.

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renters insurance is also for liability

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rufflesinc said:   renters insurance is also for liability
obviously.

but if a person has no assets, then the likelihood of a lawsuit coming after them is slim...

however, i guess if a college student stands to make good money coming out of school and they are close to graduating, then perhaps it would make sense as they wouldnt be as judgment-proof.

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When I was younger, the multi-line discount my insurance gave me on my car insurance was greater than the cost of the renter's insurance.

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Now excuse my ignorance as its been some time.

How can I make sure the property is not in foreclosure or about to be in foreclosure?

And how can I be sure the person renting to me is the owner or is legally able to rent to me?

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zapjb said:   Now excuse my ignorance as its been some time.

How can I make sure the property is not in foreclosure or about to be in foreclosure?

And how can I be sure the person renting to me is the owner or is legally able to rent to me?

  

Check if your city / county / state has a public database of property records.   
Some are online.   Others you have to go to the courthouse or city hall to ask.

 

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Sorry, I didn't think you wanted that pizza/Chinese/milk in the fridge

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ganda said:   Sorry, I didn't think you wanted that pizza/Chinese/milk in the fridge
  The excuse I was given was , "I'm sorry man, that Top Ramen (on the highest top shelf  and needs a step ladder to reach) has been there FOREVER (1 week), and i thought I bought it". (Note : Person only buys expensive food, and definitely not a Top Ramen kind of person)

Sure..sure...and may I ask why you were also in my room trying to access my laptop (which was chained to the desk) 
What's even more ironic, that person kept their food locked in their room, so the others couldn't eat it, but they had no problem eating food that wasn't theirs.  And using the dishes that weren't theirs, hence my 4 line statement. (Well the Captain commando was a different person, but you know)

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When walking through the place with the landlord before moving in, take photos/video of everything and make sure the landlord is in some of them. That way if there is any "this hole in the wall wasnt here before" when you move out, you can prove it was.

/ landlord should do this for the reverse case as well.

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rufflesinc said:   check your room has smoke alarm and it works,
Good suggestion.

If your room has a provided smoke alarm, and if the provided alarm uses house current, then also be sure that it has a good backup battery.  You might want to buy your own battery-operated smoke alarm as a supplement.

Buy your own carbon monoxide detector.

You never know what sort of risky activities other occupants of the house might pursue, especially during a power outage.

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Live like a ghost and hope that your housemates have the courtesy to do the same. I'd also hope you're on an individual college-style lease for the room, and not jointly and severally liable for the entire rent. We see threads here all the time when the house blows up due to disputes over moving out, utilities, usage of the common areas, etc.

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If you're renting from Ruffles, never, ever wear shoes. If you can, hover above the carpet. That dude will charge you even if there is only normal wear & tear on the carpet.

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Checked the town's property database. Interior is suppose to be in "poor condition" whatever that means.

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Rats, bedbugs, stuff like that.

You haven't done a walkthrough yet?

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wormbogep said:   Checked the town's property database. Interior is suppose to be in "poor condition" whatever that means.
  It means the college kids before you wrecked the place.

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wormbogep said:   Checked the town's property database. Interior is suppose to be in "poor condition" whatever that means.
  
"College grade," IOW.  They have probably been doing this for years.  

I would upgrade the lock on your bedroom -- either a wifi camera or a "traveller's alarm" of some type if you can't get a good deadbolt.   I didn't see anything about a roommate, so assuming you are just sharing with the other tenants.

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forbin4040 said:   Rats, bedbugs, stuff like that.

You haven't done a walkthrough yet?

  Walkthrough was in the daytime.  

Strangely there were 2 beds in the room.  I asked the landlord about it and she said that there were two because, "Oh, one is just a daybed."  That was the answer.  I guess I want to make sure that my rental insurance covers bed bugs, if rental insurance ever does?  I'm not sure why anyone would have 2 beds?

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Because 2 people are sharing the room.

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Don't complain about too many trivial fixit things, especially if you can fix them yourself. Otherwise expect your landlord to raise your rent as soon as he gets fed up with it.

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You're already ahead of the game if you've shown this much initiative.  Most renters don't care about anything.

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Endeavorer said:   
Buy your own carbon monoxide detector.

You never know what sort of risky activities other occupants of the house might pursue, especially during a power outage.

  

Seconded. 

I moved into an apartment last February, it's the upper half of a house. Got new downstairs neighbors two weeks later and came home to a note on my door. 

There was a carbon monoxide leak in the basement that had been going since the other upper tenants moved out. My detector never went off (probably bc it hadn't reached me yet) but now I have two of them! 


Other suggestions (maybe some common sense ones, but if you're new to renting could be useful):

  1. Shower caddy & shower shoes if you're sharing a bathroom
  2. Keep your door locked
  3. Document everything and keep backups of said documents. Rent payments, leases, any existing damage in your room and shared spaces, etc. 
  4. Test all the outlets and switches in your room. Make sure your windows open. 
  5. Check out the neighborhood at different times of the day if you're unfamiliar with the area. Is it sketchy at night? Does it get super noisy? 
  6. Check phone reception. My bedroom is the ONLY area of my house where I don't get service. Drives me crazy. 
  7. Move any existing furniture before you move in. Check for mold, pests, etc. Double check your lease to see what happens if those things occur. 
  8. You said it is owner-occupied, but make sure that anything that's provided to you is in good working condition. Washing machine, fridge, oven, and the like. 
  9. Check for air conditioning and/or heat, depending on where "campus" is. Plan accordingly!! Nothing worse than being unable to sleep bc you're too cold or too hot
  10. Be polite and kind to your new landlord / roommates until they give you a reason not to be. 

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st4rdust said:   
 
There was a carbon monoxide leak in the basement that had been going since the other upper tenants moved out. My detector never went off (probably bc it hadn't reached me yet) but now I have two of them! 

 

  having two isn't going to help if the CO doesn't reach either of them. Maybe donate one to the basement or hallway?

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rufflesinc said:   
st4rdust said:   
 
There was a carbon monoxide leak in the basement that had been going since the other upper tenants moved out. My detector never went off (probably bc it hadn't reached me yet) but now I have two of them! 

 

  having two isn't going to help if the CO doesn't reach either of them. Maybe donate one to the basement or hallway?

  
Sorry, forgot to mention that -- the second one is on the landing near the stairs from the basement to my apt. 

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