Helpful Hints for Renters

Choosing your family’s next home can be both stressful and exciting, mostly exciting if it is done correctly. I always think that the first step should be researching potential neighborhoods. I enjoy driving through neighborhoods; I am continually surprised to discover great areas off from the main streets. I would recommend that you start by driving areas where you want to live in order to create a feel for the general atmosphere. While I am driving I am making notes of where the schools are located, what stores and coffee shops are nearby, the age of the neighborhood (a good indication is the size of the trees), and parks and walking trails are also important.

Because Phoenix is so large geographically, living relatively close to your job might be beneficial. If the neighborhoods near your employer are not where you would like to live then I would suggest including in your search, transportation options (freeways and public transportation). Naturally as you are driving these areas ideally you will see “For Rent” signs. Immediately stop your car and make a phone call. Is this neighborhood affordable? A fun afternoon in your car will give you wonderful rewards.

As you locate potential properties you need to make yourself aware of “mine fields” that may be hidden in your rental path. I do not recommend renting a home that is not rent ready (all work has been completed). The owner/property manager’s idea of rent ready and your idea is typically not the same. You may end up moving into a home that does not meet your needs. Also, beware of the Application Fees. I feel it is a horrible idea and is a rip off, especially if you do not get your money back if you are turned down. You may want to have in your file a recent credit report that you can review with the owner/property manager. I would also suggest having recent copies of your pay stubs so that you can document your income. By providing this documentation the potential landlord will waive the Application Fee. If not you might want to continue looking, their unwillingness to work with you may be an indication of problems in the future.

In the Phoenix metro area, especially in the newer areas, most neighborhoods have Home Owners’ Associations. Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs) are typically beneficial, but as a result they have a lot of rules. Most of the rules have to do with the home, the color of the exterior walls and trim, the type of roofing allowed, landscaping issues that include design, plant list and no weeds, and garbage cans left visible from the street. Some HOA’s restrict residents from parking their commercial vehicles on their driveway. Some HOA’s also don’t allow overnight parking on the street. If you drive a truck with your company’s name on the side of the truck and it does not fit inside the garage or if you own more vehicles that will fit in the garage and driveway and will end up parked on the street, you should ask your owner/property manager in advance about the HOA restrictions. Fines levied against the home as a result of the tenant become the responsibility of the tenant.
It is hard to imagine when you are initially renting your new home trying to remember to ask every question that you should need to know. It turns out that not just owner occupants are losing their homes; some investors have also stopping making their payments, even when the rent was being paid. A potential tenant should always ask if the home is currently in foreclosure or how much equity does the owner have in the home you are interested in renting. Tenants have rights in a foreclosure but it is likely, even with the safe guards in place, they will have to move before the lease expires. If this happens, hopefully the tenant will receive the damage deposit once they have moved.

The most common problem tenants suffer, after moving in a home, is the repair of something broken; Air Conditioner, Dishwasher, Garage Door, Plumbing, etc. Some leases provide that the tenant is responsible for the first $35.00 to $100.00 for each repair. Read the lease carefully, understand and question what happens when something needs to be repaired. In fairness, sometimes the responsibility belongs to the tenant because the problem was created by the tenant – broken window, clogged disposal, a car backing into a closed garage door. Things will go wrong, understand what the solution is before you sign the lease. If you follow a few of these pointers hopefully you will make a wise decision in the selection of your next home.