As of Monday, September 26, 2016
Renters may be free of some of the concerns and responsibilities of homeownership, but there are a few considerations they should make for financial security and greater peace of mind:
Read your lease
Whether you’re moving in to a new place or have been occupying your unit for some time, knowing the ins and outs of your lease is crucial. Be sure there will be no curveballs or surprises that you have not accounted for in your budget.
Is your rent subject to an increase? By how much and how often? Cross-check local regulations to ensure rent increases are in accordance with the law.
Read your lease in order to get a handle on what your responsibilities and rights are as a tenant.
Get renters insurance
Many apartment communities require renters to carry personal liability insurance to cover the property and surrounding structures as a result of damage caused by the renter. This coverage does not extend to your personal property, however. To cover your personal property, a standard renters insurance policy is recommended.
Otherwise, unexpected events such as fire, theft, vandalism or other perils could mean a substantial financial loss to you. However, the small monthly investment of renter’s insurance could save you thousands of dollars down the line.
Do your research to determine what policy makes sense for you. Many insurance providers, such as Assurant, offer free online calculators to help you take inventory and determine the level of coverage you need. The company also offers its more than 1 million customers nationwide the ability to buy insurance, pay bills, change coverage and file claims online by computer or a mobile device, as well as the option of automatic payments, or even setting the billing date. These convenient options are designed with young people in mind, including some 100,000 Assurant policyholders living in student housing.
Perform a careful inspection
Before moving into your new rental unit or signing a lease, do a careful inspection, noting any existing damage or necessary maintenance. Communicate concerns to the management company or landlord in writing. Free online checklists can guide you on what to look for and record. For example, buckling floors and water stains could indicate water damage — a condition that could lead to property damage. It’s also helpful to take photographs with a timestamp. Do these inspections periodically, as well as when you renew your lease.
Remember to also photograph your belongings — or keep your receipts — because any insurance provider will ask for proof of ownership in the event you have to file a claim.
You may not own the property, but it is still your home. Staying on top of the space in which you live can offer you greater comfort and greater peace of mind.