Sunday Savings Tip: Staying Fiscally Wise When Renting An Apartment

Given the current state of the economy and the challenge of being approved for a mortgage, more and more people are choosing to rent their houses, condos and apartments instead of buying. The U.S. Census Bureau says homeownership was the lowest during the first quarter of 2010 since the first quarter of 2000.

If you are one of the millions who rent your home, here are some tips on getting the most out of your lease.

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Landlord and Tenant Laws: Make sure you know, and understand, the local landlord and tenant laws. What problems and tasks are the responsibility of your landlord and what are yours? When are you due for a new coat of paint, and who pays for spraying for bugs? Remember to check and make sure the rules apply to your landlord—in some areas, those who rent out only one or two properties are exempt from some rules.

Breaking a Lease: Most people don't have plans to break a lease when they sign one, but life sometimes goes in a different direction than expected. Make sure you understand what your obligations are, both financial and otherwise, before you sign your lease, or at least before you decide to break it. When you are signing your lease, if you think there is a chance you might need to break it, talk to the landlord and see if a shorter lease is possible.

Storage: If you have done your best to whittle down your belongings and it still won't all fit in your new pad, investigate storage companies. Paying for off-site storage is usually less money than looking for a place with an extra bedroom. You don't actually need your winter clothes on-hand in the summer.

Rental Discounts: Look for apartments or complexes in your area that are offering discounts or one free month deals. In some areas, it is common practice to offer renting incentives. Just make sure you read the fine print and know when you will receive your free month, and if there are any obligations on your end.

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Refer a Friend: Does your building have a "refer a friend" program? If so, make sure you know what the opportunity is. Also remember not to refer any friends unless you actually do like where you are living—awkward neighbor situations could arise otherwise.

Renters Insurance: While signing up for renters insurance will cost you money at the outset, it will save you money if you experience a fire, theft or disasters of another kind. Knowing you will be able to replace your belongings will save you stress and worry, before, after and during. More information is available about renters insurance through 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy.

The most important thing to keep in mind when renting is to investigate your options and know the details of your lease before you sign it.



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