When thinking about renting a property. There are a lot of things you need to understand when it comes to the renting process. Understand that although you don’t own the property, as a tenant you still have tenant rights. In each state there is a difference when it comes to these tenant rights so you would be advise to your tenant and landlord right laws and go over them. By and large, landlord-tenant laws in the state of Texas are, generally, pro-landlords. However, tenants have avenues for recourse in the event they suffer a legal liability in the hands of the landlord or his agents. Before moving out to a new place, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the issues surrounding the activity. In the long run, this will save you the cost of engaging a lawyer, and time due to lengthy court processes.
In this article, I will be focusing on several issues that affect you as a prospective tenant. Below are some of those issues:
The Application Process
Once you have identified a suitable place to rent, the next step is to fill out a rental application form. To facilitate this process, you will be required to pay about $50.00 dollars, which is nonrefundable to the landlord. This sum of money is used to verify some things about you as a prospective tenant. Most landlords usually check their prospective tenants’ credit ratings and rental history. This is very important as it gives the landlord insight as to whether you can afford and maintain the place in good repair.
Before filling out an application form, you must check whether you meet the requirements of the landlord. The requirements are usually made available to prospective tenants by the landlord or the landlord management company . Familiarizing yourself with these requirements will save you time and money. Additionally, you may be required to pay a deposit to take the unit off the market.
Keep in mind you will have to request to the management and the landlord that you are interested in taking the unit off the market and when this is done this usually requires you to pay a amount.
In some instances, the fee is not refunded if, for example, the application is allowed and you do not commence tenancy within a reasonable time. This is why you want to make sure that this is going to be the property that you want to rent.
Remember, in a hot rental market properties will not last long. So you want to make sure that when you find the place and get approved make sure that when you take the property off the market you are saying to the landlord that you are ready to move forward with renting the property.
If the landlord acts unjustly, the applicant has a remedy under your state laws. For example: If the landlord acts unjustly, the applicant has a remedy under the laws of Texas. For more information check out consumer protection home real estate and renters rights at the Texas Attorney General.
According to the law, if the landlord does not reply to your application within seven days after receiving it, the application is deemed to be rejected. A tenancy can only begin after you are notified of the same. In case the seventh day falls on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is pushed until the next week day.
If your application is accepted, you should keep a copy of your lease agreement, and community rules if any exist. The lease agreement should be signed by either the landlord or the property manager. Under the law, you have a right to receive a signed copy of the lease agreement. Additionally, you should make a checklist of the property’s furnishings, and the general state of the property. In most cases, most landlords provide you with a condition and inventory form. You should sign this document for future reference in case of conflict. To be more confident, you should take pictures; this might help clarify issues in the future. Last but not least, you must, without fail, always pay your rent in good time even if there is a dispute between you and the property owner. This will ensure that your rental history remains spotless.
Combined, the cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin have a total of 800,000 rental units. This means that more than a quarter of the people living in Texas are tenants. According to the law on security deposits, landlords don’t need to collect deposits from their tenants. However, most landlords require tenants to pay security deposits to move into the property. This is mostly a cautionary thing. Additionally, you should check whether the local authority has set
limits on how much deposit a landlord can ask for residential rentals.
A security deposit helps to cater for unpaid cash or damages on the property once your tenancy lapses. The security deposit is subject to deductions. The deductions may include:
- Charges resulting from a breach of the lease agreement
- Charges for wear and tear, or damage resulting from negligence
- Unpaid rent or unpaid fees provided for under the lease agreement such as unreturned keys, missing furniture, returned checks, and late rent payment; and
- Costs for cleaning up in case you live without cleaning correctly.
Deductions made to the deposit must be in writing. The deductions should be mailed to you within 30 days after your exit. However, if you do not furnish the landlord with your new address, he/she is not obligated to post the deductions to you. Additionally, if you have not cleared your rent, the landlord is not obligated to send you the deductions.
According to the law, your deposit should be returned to you 30 days after you move out. There are several things you can do to ensure that you get your deposit back when the lease expires. These things include:
Ensure that you inspect the place thoroughly before moving in; it is even wiser for you to do this before you even sign the lease. This is because it is easier for you to spot problems when the place is unoccupied. Also, it is vital that you do not forget to check the site for latent defects. These are defects that cannot be easily identified upon a reasonable inspection of the premises. You might need to engage some professionals to conduct this exercise effectively.
Make a detailed inventory of the things that are there. This will help to show that specific issues existed before you occupied the premises.
Besides keeping and maintaining a well-detailed inventory, you must take pictures of the place. Videos and images are a right way of documenting the condition of the site. After doing this, you should furnish the landlord with a copy of the video or pictures; afterward, you should set a date and sign the prints. If you document using a video, you must avail a copy to the landlord; you must also state the date and time when the video was taken in clear terms.
Not all landlords comply with state laws in regards to the handling of the tenant’s deposit. There are several things you can do ensure that you get your deposit upon demand. These things include:
If you pay rent monthly, legally, you are required to give your landlord notice before ending or terminating your lease. If you plan to live before the contract ends, you should find another tenant before the landlord finds one. If you do not get a new tenant, and the property is not re-rented, you may still have to pay rent for the remainder of the lease agreement. This might eat into your deposit.
You can negotiate with your landlord to return your deposit early if you are the only tenant leaving. Typically, landlords are not obliged by the law to return deposits until all the cotenants vacate the property.
Be there when the landlord inspects the property. This is to ensure that you have not over or under cleaned the premises.
Ensure the landlord agrees to your cleaning plans.
Fix the damages you, your pet, or your guests caused. Additionally, remember to leave the keys and remove all garbage, and cleaning supplies from the premises.
Document your repair work and cleaning. You can do this by taking videos and photos and calling in witnesses to attest to this.
Give your landlord the address of where you are moving.
How to Rent with Bad Credit and the Importance of having an excellent Rental History
Having bad credit is an endless source of inconveniences. When it comes to renting property, having bad credit can hinder you from living where you desire. Having bad credit can have a prejudicial effect on your prospective landlord. Bad credit signifies: financial indiscipline, and unemployment.
These things, with good reason, do not augur well with the majority of landlords. This is why its a good idea to understand how your credit looks. A good idea would be to sign up for credit karma and check your credit information first. If you are thinking about buying a home and need help on the process check out my ABCs of getting a mortgage article.
Also remember, that there are down payment assistance programs available such as the TSAHC program.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to convince your prospective landlord to rent the property to you. Although there are no guarantees it never hurts to ask.
Paying a larger deposit with bad credit
The saying goes, cash is king. Bad credit automatically disqualifies your application. Only cold hard cash can persuade the landlord to allow you to rent his property. You can start by showing the landlord that you are capable of paying your bills and utilities as they fall due by providing proof of income. A test of income may be in the form of recent pay stubs, a letter from your employer stating your employment status, tax returns forms, and income from your employer.
Landlords require you to pay a security deposit and a month’s rent in advance. To reassure the landlord that you are a person of means, you should pay at least three months’ rent in advance. You can also offer to pay a larger security deposit than he/she usually requests from tenants.
Rental history is as important as your credit ratings. Landlords use this as a test for establishing your reputation as a renter. Rental history is information in regards to your past rental arrangements. It includes late rent payments, credit score, criminal history, former addresses, and other bits of information that will help the landlord establish your eligibility. Many firms provide this service at a fee. Primarily, if your rental history report is positive, you will successfully apply for tenancy. There are many things you can do to keep your rental history spotless clean. They include:
- Keep your records accurately
- Keep your place clean
- Be considerate to your neighbors
- Maintain your address.
Record keeping is an important life skill; it ensures that you have relevant information within your reach all the time. You must always keep receipts and related documents from places you have lived before. You can use this as evidence to your prospective landlord as proof of goodwill and commitment.
Insurance insulates you from loss as a result of disasters or accidents. Most tenants, mistakenly, think that the building’s insurance covers them in the event of a loss. Landlords insurance only covers his possessions and physical structure. Unknown to many renters, many benefits accrue to having a rental insurance policy. These include:
- It includes liability protection
For example, you have a guest who causes damage to the rental property; the policy will cover you for the damage caused. This will save you money in the long run.
- Wind/fire coverage
The policy will cover you in the event fire, or strong winds destroy your possessions. Depending on the plan you subscribe to, you may receive either the replacement cost or the monetary value of your belongings from the insurer.
- Theft coverage
property compensates you in the event of burglary or theft on your rental property.
Role of the Agent in the Rental Process
Rental agents have a good understanding of the area they operate in. As a tenant, you might not have the luxury of time to move around a new city looking for a suitable place to move. This is a task best performed by an agent should a conflict arise in the course of your tenancy; the agent acts as a buffer between you and your landlord.
Therefore you should not only focus on finding the right property; you should also find and keep an excellent rental agent. An excellent rental agent, ultimately, has your interests at heart. You should always ensure that your agent is a member of a professional body. This will ensure that you do not deal with rogue agents. Additionally, you can always report the agent to the professional body if he or she acts unjustly to your interests.
Moving out is a challenging activity. It takes a toll on you both physically and emotionally. The fact that you are moving to a a new place may be stressful. During this period, it is easy for you to make mistakes especially if you are not aware of the rules and regulations surrounding leases. you can reduce the chances of mistake and frustration, later on, by engaging a credible tenancy agent. this will ensure that the process remains as stress free as possible.