Avoid these 9 Mistakes when you are Renting A House in the US

Avoid these 9 Mistakes when you are Renting A House in the US

Moumita Basu

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Your bags are packed, and you’re ready to go. You have your suitcases packed and guidebooks ready. You've triple-checked that you have both your plane tickets and your passport -- and will maybe check one more time... just in case. You are off to live in a new country for the first time in your life, and you couldn’t be more excited about it.

Cling to that excitement as tightly as possible because moving out on your own is a big step anywhere, but even more so when you add in oceans and other continents. Whether you're venturing out for a new job or for your higher studies, finding a nice place to stay, that too on rent is a herculean task.

When I first moved away from my hometown to a completely new city, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. After spending a considerable amount of time in a city that I now call my own, I wish there was someone to tell me a few things before moving to a new place altogether.

Here is the ultimate guide to avoiding mistakes before renting housing in the US.

Are there any restrictions when a non-US citizen rents a house in the US?

Typically no, there are no restrictions as such. However, what landlords are looking for is a stable source of income. As long as you have all the documentation and proof that you can pay rent on time, you are all set to make a home away from home.

Documents needed to rent a house in the US

Sure, you've done the hard work, found your dream apartment, and are ready to sign. However, when it comes to turning that paperwork over and getting your keys, landlords and property managers want to ensure prospective tenants are the right fit for their property, financially responsible, and reliable before handing over the keys. If you've been an apartment hunt for a while, there are a few things you need to prepare with every rental application.

Mistakes to avoid before renting a house in the US

Renting an apartment or house can be a headache. It’s not just your new home; it’s your base for everything that comes after: transportation, eating out, entertainment, etc. And since there are always so many decisions to make in a short amount of time, forgetting even one detail can lead to unpleasant surprises down the road. But what are some common mistakes you might be making while renting?

Not reading the lease carefully

The devil’s in the details… Literally. Your lease will include information about what is expected from both parties. If there are pet rules, how many can live in one home, and how much must be paid for them? These things will affect your cost. What I mean is that if your landlord wants to charge you extra because of your pet, chances are high that you will end up paying more.

Passing up on renter’s insurance

An unforeseen event can happen any day, whether a fire in the kitchen or a break-in that steals your laptop. The good news is that most renters' insurance policies will cover these types of losses (flood, hail, lightning strike, and other acts of nature are also covered), but there’s bad news: Most tenants don’t have coverage for their personal belongings. They could wind up with thousands of dollars in damages if their stuff is stolen or damaged by water or fire. Fortunately, renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive, usually costing several hundred dollars a year.

Ignoring the neighborhood

When it comes to finding an apartment, don’t be in a hurry to secure it. Make sure that your surroundings are good, safe, and peaceful. Check different times of the day; morning versus afternoon can provide you with different information.

Renting the property unseen

Technology has blessed us enough to look for a new home without leaving the comfort of our couch. While it does seem more convenient, an in-person tour gives you a better feel of how the property is and how it is maintained. While doing the property inspection, look for evidence of water damage, mold, low water pressure, or poor insulation.

Paying rent late

You might be thinking, “why should I care about paying my rent on time? My roommate is always late and never pays me back.” It may seem like a frivolous issue, but not paying rent on time can impact your credit score and lead to eviction. Some landlords charge a late fee ranging from $75 to $200 daily. This could mean hundreds of dollars in additional late fees over the course of a year, making paying your rent late a lot more expensive than you think it is.

Taking on roommates without agreement

While finding roommates sounds like an amazing idea to cut down on costs, don’t do it without paperwork.  A roommate agreement should include monetary expectations, such as when and how to pay rent and utilities. You should also determine how housework will be completed and whether food and other supplies are communal. It is also good to set ground rules about visitors and quiet hours.

Bottom line: If you do your homework, many of the renting problems can be avoided, even if you are signing up for your first apartment.