by Stacey Carroll, Contributing Writer
Don't get caught in a rental agreement where you will end up unhappy and can't wait for the end of your lease to come. Oftentimes, renters won't tell you a lot of important things up front. That's why it's important to ask these 5 questions before renting anywhere.
What is included with the rent?
Some properties include water, sewer, trash, heat, and gas or some variation. At the very least they should include water, sewer and trash. Properties that include nothing can add $50.00 or more to your rent bill every month. I rented an apartment that included nothing. The base rent was $574.00. Once they included water, sewer, and trash, it became $630.00 and sometimes higher. Can you afford it?
How is the rent paid? What types of payment do they accept?
Most properties accept cash, money order, and check. A few accept on-line payments, credit cards, and sometimes even PayPal. Many properties don't accept cash, including one that I've rented. It often has to be a money order or personal check. There is a drop box for after hours rent payments.
Another of my rental properties accepted cash, money order, and personal checks, but there was no drop box. She came around on the first of the month and physically picked up the checks. It meant I had to be at home every first of the month.
Find out what the grace period is for rent. Most apartment complexes give you until the fifth of the month. One of my last complexes had no grace period.
Who does the maintenance? What are you responsible for?
In one of my last apartments, we had one maintenance guy. I ended up doing or starting a lot of my maintenance myself. If I spend my own money; new faucet filter, toilet kit, paint, knobs, I do not get reimbursed via a rent reduction.
Figure out who does the maintenance and how much of it you are responsible for. Find out what they consider to be “normal wear and tear”. Otherwise, you could find yourself fixing a lot of someone else's property.
What types of people live in the community? Are they well-behaved? Are their children well behaved?
Get honest answers on who your neighbors are before you sign that lease. I was very clear with one landlord when I told her I was a writer, single, childless, and needed endless amounts of quiet. She assured me that there were no children in the building I was moving in to.
A week after I moved in I started hearing “Woohoo’s!” and a screaming toddler. It turns out almost every apartment in that building has a child. The other tenants are loud, slam doors, and stomp feet. The walls and floors are paper thin. That meant I was outright lied to. So, sometimes you may even have to ask around to find out the truth.
Is there a lot of crime, theft in the complex or surrounding area?
Contact the police department and ask about criminal activity on the block and surrounding neighborhood. Visit the complex at night and see how many people are outside. Observe their activities. After 11pm, you should not see people loitering unless it’s on their porches.
Stacey Carroll is the author of the thriller series - Avia. She also authors the paranormal erotica series - The Blooddoll Factory. Stacey grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. she went to college at Indiana State University (ISU) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in aerospace in the professional pilot program. She has flown Cessna 152s, Cessna 172s, the Pipe Seneca and the King Air. She also graduated with a minor in computer science that specialized in web design.
She has always been interested in reading and writing, and the first book she was ever read was the Grimms Brother's Fairy tales. From the ages of 6 to 11, she read the Nancy Drew series. By the age of 11, she had graduated to Stephen King novels. A few of her favorites include Carrie, Tommyknockers, The Dark Tower Series up to book 3 (That's where it stopped in the late 80s/ early 90s), Pet Semetary, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand, It, Cujo, Christine, The Eyes of the Dragon and Thinner (Richard Bachman). In her teen years, she moved on to Anne Rice and got through about four of those books before they degraded. If you've ever read Anne Rice, you know book 5 isn't readable. Stacey has read a couple Harry Potter books as she was introduced to them in the early 2000s, and she's never read or watched anything Twilight or 50 Shades. Sorry. I'm a vampire purist, and nothing needs to be said about the latter. You already know.
She is currently an author and freelance writer. She received an honorable mention in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 2008 for a short story entitled The Field. In 2014, she was published in 13 Stories by Us by MacKenzie Publishing.
Other books by Stacey
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