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3 of the biggest mistakes that tenants can make

Tue March 21, 2017

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In a recent article, we examined a few of the most common mistakes that landlords make. Common problems such as setting unrealistic rent expectations or being too hands-on can have a significant impact on the success of a landlord-tenant relationship, but there's another side to consider as well. For tenants, it's important to have the right protection in place, just in case things do go wrong and you need to move. 

So, what measures should tenants take every time they rent a property? 

"No matter how frenzied the market is, don't rush into a rental agreement if something doesn't feel right."

1. Not reading (and understanding) the lease

Sydney's rental market is immensely competitive. This can be put down to the ballooning house prices, which are turning more and more city-dwellers into renters. With this competition comes a fair bit of difficulty in terms of finding the perfect rental. When the right one finally comes along, it can be tempting to jump on it and sign the lease to make sure that you secure the property. However, this can have serious ramifications further down the road. 

The lease agreement that you sign dictates everything from who pays for certain utilities to terms of getting bond back and the number of people who can live at the property. Business Insider Australia reiterates the importance of checking for terms that may not have been mentioned in the property's advertising, and that can cost you dearly if you're unaware of them. 

"No matter how frenzied the market is, don't rush into a rental agreement if something doesn't feel right. That means taking the document home and having a friend or family member who has more renting experience than you, read it over." 

Before you move into a rental, always take clear photographs of its condition. Before you move into a rental, always take clear photographs of its condition.

2. Not documenting the property's condition

With every modern phone boasting an in-built camera, there's absolutely no excuse for not taking photographs of a rental property before you move in. Why? Because disputes over damage and general wear are some of the most common reasons for tenants not getting their bond back! 

There are four main reasons why landlords can claim from the bond:

  • Repairs: Due to damage caused by you, another occupant or a guest. 
  • Cleaning: If you've left the property in worse condition than when you arrived. 
  • Replacing locks or security devices: If you changed, removed or installed these without consent. 
  • Rent: Or any other unpaid charges owed under the terms of your lease. 

It might seem subjective whether you left a house in a condition comparable to when you arrived, but it's hard to argue with visual evidence. Take clear photographs showing the property's condition before you move in, and make sure to maintain the home during your time there. 

Theft is a particular issue in flat-share situations, so it's always good to be aware of the risk and take appropriate precautions.

3. Not having renter's insurance

If you were to buy a new home, one of the first things that you'd do would be take out a house and contents insurance policy. This is what protects your investment in the case of theft or other accidents such as a fire. So, why shouldn't the same caution extend to renters? 

There are a lot of insurance companies that offer affordable contents-only policies, and taking out one of these can protect you against worst-case scenarios. Theft is a particular issue in flat-share situations, so it's always good to be aware of the risk and take appropriate precautions. 

Of course, it's also important to make sure you build a positive relationship with the landlord or property manager, and that all starts in the viewing process. To find out more about how you can secure the perfect rental, contact Laing+Simmons today

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