Renting a new luxury apartment in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, or elsewhere in Texas is EXCITING! It’s also an involved process, with several steps.
That can make it easy for first-time renters and seasoned pros alike to miss something and maybe make some mistakes along the way. With renting, though, mistakes can come with BIG costs and major headaches.
If you know what those mistakes are before you dive into your next apartment search, you can easily avoid them and not waste your money while making the whole process a lot smoother.
How to Avoid the 7 Biggest & Costliest Renter Mistakes
Usually, renters will make the common mistakes below because:
- They’re unfamiliar with the process.
- They are in a hurry, and they feel like they have to rush to get their next lease signed ASAP.
- They don’t realize the consequences of cutting certain corners — maybe because it hasn’t backfired on them yet.
So, here’s a look at what those renter mistakes are and what to do instead.
1. Searching before budgeting
What can you really afford to spend on monthly rent? You need to have a specific dollar amount — or dollar range — in mind here. If you don’t, you could end up:
- Wasting time applying for apartments you can’t afford (and that you may get denied for)
- Signing a lease for a unit that’s too expensive, which could put you financially underwater or create other problems
Better Alternative: Figure out your budget before you start your apartment search. As you do, don’t just consider monthly rental fees. You also need to factor in related costs, like your deposit and monthly utility bills.
2. Renting without seeing the complex or unit
Online photos and videos can be fantastic ways to get eyes on a luxury apartment you’re considering, but they won’t tell the whole story. And those pictures and online tours may not even be of the unit you want to rent. That could leave you with all sorts of unwelcome surprises when it’s time to move in.
Better Alternative: Don’t sign a lease or pay a deposit until you — or someone you trust, like your apartment locator —have seen the unit in person. Also, when checking out a luxury apartment for an in-person tour, make sure you ask if the unit you’re seeing is the same one that’s for rent.
3. Overlooking key features of the apartment
Apartment tours can be really fun, and it’s easy to get caught up in the new appliances, gorgeous city views from a high-rise luxury apartment, or community amenities, like resort-style pools. That can mean that apartment hunters forget to check out the less eye-catching, but no-less-important, features, like:
- Water pressure
- Internet connection and speed
- Lighting and electrical sockets
- Closets and storage space
Better Alternative: Take a checklist to your apartment tour, so that you don’t forget to inspect every key feature you want or need to look at during the tour. Also, it’s prudent to plan at least two visits to luxury apartments you’re seriously considering and, if possible, take someone with you. This can help you look past the sparkle and glitz of it all, so you can get a real feel for the more functional features of a unit that you’ll be relying on day to day.
4. Signing a lease without reading it
Leases are contracts, and they tend to be long, with several terms, clauses, conditions, and exclusions. So, when many people are handed lease documents, they just skip to the back and sign, instead of going through and reading each term.
When they do, they’re agreeing to everything in that contract, whether or not they realize it. And, sometimes, that could mean agreeing to unfavorable terms, like:
- Forfeiting security deposits
- Agreeing to certain rent increases
- Locking into a longer-term lease than desired
Better Alternative: Read the lease before signing it. If you don’t have time or you’d like the help of a pro, work with an experienced apartment locator, who can help you review the terms of the lease to ensure they’re fair.
5. Failing to disclose a pet
Landlords and property managers generally want to know about pets that renters have, like dogs and cats. While they may require a pet deposit, they may also want a pet resumé and/or reference letters. Others may bar pet owners from renting.
That’s why some renters with pets think it’s a good idea to keep their pets a secret — they either want to avoid paying the deposit, avoid the resumé process, or get into a place that doesn’t allow pets.
No matter why some renters do this, it’s a mistake, and it could lead to heavier fines, the loss of a security deposit, or even eviction later.
Better Alternative: Just be upfront about your pets and narrow your search to pet-friendly luxury apartments, so you don’t get attached to a complex that doesn’t allow dogs or cats.
Also, prep your pet’s resumé and/or reference letters when you prepare all of your renters’ documents (for your application). That’ll make the process much easier, regardless of whether you apply to one or several luxury apartments.
6. Not taking pictures when moving in
When move-in time comes, it can feel like a frenzy. Your life is in boxes, and you have a small window of time to get it all from the old place to your new luxury apartment. That can make it easy to forget or ignore taking move-in photos of your new unit.
If you do forget to do this, you’ll have a hard time verifying the condition of the apartment at move-in time when you’re moving out later. Consequently, you could be blamed for damage or issues that pre-existed you. If that happens, you may lose some or all of your security deposit.
Better Alternative: Don’t bring ANY of your things into your new apartment until you have taken pictures and video of the empty unit. Do your best to capture the flooring, walls, outlets, appliances, and any visible damage you do see. Then, store these photos in a safe spot, so you can access them later when your lease is up and you’re getting ready to move out.
7. Not using a FREE apartment locator
Thinking you have to search for your next apartment all by yourself is another common renters’ mistake. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding your next apartment on your own, this CAN end up being a mistake for renters who are:
- Not familiar with the apartment search process
- Not locals, so they don’t know the area or the neighborhoods
- Pressed for time and need to find their next luxury apartment ASAP
In fact, without an apartment locator, it’s much easier to make any or all of the mistakes discussed above — and any of those could drain your wallet and create a world of stress you don’t need.
Better Alternative: Work with a FREE apartment locator and get an experienced pro to head up your apartment search for you! You have nothing to lose and A LOT to potentially gain — including cash back when you sign a lease if you work with Apartment Gurus!
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