Whether you’re currently on the prowl for a rental unit or are just casually considering renting, there’s a lot to think about. The thing is, there’s a lot of information about renting floating around out there, much of which is true, and a lot that isn’t.
Here are a few myths about renting that should be quashed.
1. Rent prices can’t be negotiated.
Not only is the location of a rental a predominant factor in your search for your next home, so is the rental price. You likely will only look at listings that fall within a certain price range. But the posted rental price isn’t written in stone. Many landlords are open to negotiating on the price.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t try to wheel and deal with a landlord to see if the price can be lowered. Even if there’s no wiggle room with the price, you may be able to get the landlord to throw in other incentives, such as waiving the security deposit or offering an additional parking spot.
2. Your rental application won’t be approved with a poor credit score.
Yes, your credit score weighs heavily on your landlord’s decision to approve your rental application. In fact, your credit score plays a key role in many of life’s financial situations, which is why it’s always advised to take measures to ensure it stays healthy.
That being said, a sub-par credit score doesn’t always automatically mean a rental rejection. Sure, it will make it a lot tougher to snag a rental unit, but you won’t be immediately disqualified as a result in all case. Other positive factors may help your position, such as raving reviews from previous landlords or paystubs showing a substantial income.
3. You’re stuck with the lease until it expires.
Generally speaking, you’re tied to your lease when you sign it. This binds you to all the terms of the lease, including the expiry date (assuming all terms are legal). But that doesn’t mean there is no way for you to get out of your lease legally. If there is a lease break contingency somewhere in the lease, you might be able to use that as a way out.
For instance, some lease termination policies might require a penalty fee to be paid if you break the lease before the expiry date. Or, the policy could require you to surrender the security deposit.
In addition, there may be certain circumstances whereby you may be legally allowed to break your lease:
- You’re starting a tour with the military;
- Your landlord or neighbors are harassing you;
- The unit is deemed unsafe or uninhabitable;
- You suffer a significant medical situation.
Speak with a real estate agent to find out all of your rights as a tenant to break your lease.
4. Your landlord can enter your property anytime.
As a tenant, you have the right to quiet enjoyment of your rental. Your landlord needs to respect your privacy while you’re living there, which means they typically have to provide you with notice before they enter your unit and have good reason to. Typical reasons for landlords to want to enter a rental property include making repairs and showing the unit to a prospective buyer.
However, there may be times when a landlord can enter a tenant’s property with no notice or warning, but only during times of emergency.
5. Your landlord can end your lease at any time.
Your landlord needs to abide by the terms of the lease, and that includes adhering to the lease end date. Under normal circumstances, a landlord cannot evict you for no valid reason. There must be adequate proof that you’ve violated your lease terms and evidence that an eviction is justified.
Your landlord can’t just kick you out on a whim, especially if you’ve been following the terms of your lease. If your landlord wants you out, the situation will likely have to go through the courts.
Having said that, a month-to-month lease makes it easier for landlords to evict their tenants. In this case, you will need to be provided with between 30 to 60 days’ written notice from your landlord informing you that you are required to move out, and your landlord doesn’t really need to offer a reason for ending the lease.
6. Your landlord is responsible for all maintenance and repairs.
Landlords are definitely obligated to perform certain repairs and maintenance duties, but tenants shouldn’t assume that they’ll take care of everything. According to California law, landlords are responsible for repairing significant issues in order to adhere to local and state laws regarding suitable habitation. However, landlords do not have to make any repairs for damages that the tenant is responsible for.
As far as minor repairs are concerned, these stipulations should be detailed in the lease agreement.
7. Anything the landlord includes in the lease is enforceable.
Usually, anything that has been detailed in a lease agreement is considered legally binding. That is, however, unless the items are considered unlawful according to local, state, and federal law. Anything that is not legal under the law is not enforceable.
8. Renting is only for those who can’t afford to buy a home.
While there are certainly a large proportion of renters who continue to rent because they are unable to afford a home purchase, there are others who do it as a lifestyle choice.
Some may enjoy the flexibility that comes with renting and the ability to move without having to sell first. Others prefer to gauge what it would be like to plant roots in a specific area and choose to rent for a while first before buying.
Not all renters are those who can’t afford to buy; instead, it’s a choice for many.
The Bottom Line
Not everything you hear about renting is necessarily true. Whether you’re just contemplating renting or are already actively looking for a place, be sure to sort out truth from fiction, and the best way to do that is to team up with an experienced real estate agent.