There are lots of do's and don'ts in apartments living. Use common sense and consideration and you'll be right most of the time... But, to save yourself grief, look at some of these helpful hints:
- Make sure that you have statement, in writing, when your financial responsibility begins and ends. Then, pay your rent on time; it's your legal responsibility.
- It is illegal to hold up your rent because of maintenance problems in your apartment. These are entirely separate functions and failure to pay rent will only result in an eviction.
- Do pay rent in one total sum each month. Either have one roommate write out a check for the full amount or deliver all checks to the manager together. This prevents one roommate from falling behind in the rent and jeopardizing the entire apartment.
- Save your cancelled checks or get cash receipts for all of your rent and utility payments.
- Don't turn your apartment into a camping ground for additional people in order to reduce your monthly rent costs. If you cannot afford an apartment, don't move in to begin with. A permanent guest whose name is not on the lease can mean big trouble for you.
- Don't pass keys out to your friends. Everything you own is in that apartment, so don't make it easy for light-fingered people to enter. For the same reason, lock your door when no one is there.
- Don't pry your door open with a knife, screwdriver or any tool... it leaves a mark that's an invitation to any thief that walks down your hall. If you have lost or misplace your key, go to the manager and ask him for a duplicate until you find or replace your own key.
- Find out from your landlord what he recommends for hanging small pictures and other objects on the walls. Damage from fasteners, other than those recommended, will be deducted from your deposit.
- Keep your apartment in good condition. It's nice to get big refund check back at the end of the year.
- Here are a few tricks on conserving electricity:
- If you have a dishwasher, run it once a day or less.
- Keep your refrigerator defrosted. All the ice creates a wall of insulation. (Do not use sharp objects to clean refrigerators; they can be easily punctured.)
- A light turned off burns less electricity than a lit one, so don't leave lights blazing when you're not in the room or not at home at all.
- Air conditioners are tremendous users of electricity. Effective cooling can be obtained easily by simply drawing all curtains in the apartment to keep out the sun.
- If you must use an electric heater, set it and forget it. Don't keep turning it on and off.
- Electric hair dryers are super electricity users.
Tenancy Ends (Breaking the Lease)
If you're forced to terminate the lease, you must give your landlord proper notification. If agreeable with the landlord, get the agreement in writing. You may terminate the lease early if agreeable with the landlord.
In many cases, it is automatically renewed for an additional year. Read the terms on your lease to be sure about the termination of financial responsibilities.
If your landlord has committed a substantial breach of contract or has violated city, state or federal laws, you may be able to legally break your lease. Failure to repair a broken towel rack is not a substantial reason for breach of contract. Talk to a lawyer before you take any action.
Before Tenancy Ends
Old tenants don't just fade away, there are many things to do before you leave a place. If you do them right, you may save yourself considerable time and money.
- Always give thirty (30) days notice before your lease expires by notifying the landlord in writing that you are moving. Do this regardless of the type of lease you have.
- Check with your landlord to see what he expects of you.
- Arrange a clean-up time allowing at least four hours of concentrated cleaning per occupant. Labor charges for cleaning and repairs run high (from $2.00 to $8.00 per hour), so do it yourself.
- Insist upon a landlord inspection in the presence of all your roommates. The inventory inspection form you signed when you moved in should be in your hand during the inspection.
- If there are any charges for cleaning and repairs, insist upon an itemized list of costs.