As you hunt for your next home to rent, you should keep in mind that the rent you see listed in the newspaper or online may not be the final rent you pay. Landlords are not obliged to stick to the rent price they list to bring in prospective tenants, and you need to know what affects your monthly payment if you want to find out what your real rent will be each month.
Just because a landlord did not mention a pet deposit in their ad does not mean that there is no deposit to worry about. If you have pets or intend to get a pet, then you have to find out from prospective landlords if there is an extra cost to have them in your rented home. Some landlords require an extra pet deposit per pet, and they will often limit how many pets you can have. But you should also ask if having pets adds to the monthly rent because sometimes it does.
Some landlords include the water bill as part of your rent without telling you, while other landlords present you with the water bill each month. If your area charges for garbage pickup, then your rent may or may not cover it. If there is one area you should clarify when talking to a landlord, it is utilities. Find out exactly what is covered by your monthly rent payment, and find out what you will be directly responsible for.
It has happened before where landlords have added a small fee to the rent during the winter months for snow removal without telling tenants up front. The cost for snow removal may be in your lease and your landlord decided to not point it out to you. Find out if there is an extra charge for snow removal each month, and what that charge will be. You may even want to offer to shovel and salt the sidewalks on the property for a discount in monthly rent. Just be sure you get it all in writing before you start shoveling.
Your Credit Score
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For some people it can be hard to believe, but a growing number of landlords are setting rent prices based on the tenant’s credit score. If your credit score is low, then landlords take that to mean that you are not reliable in paying your bills. To accommodate what the landlord perceives as a potential financial burden, they will set your rent higher. In some states, it is illegal to raise rent based on credit score. But the problem you will have is proving that it was your credit score, and not some other factor, that caused your rent to go up.
Some landlords offer a lower monthly rent if you agree to a longer term on the lease. It is not uncommon for a two-year lease to have a lower monthly payment than a one-year lease. It is a risk for both parties to do this, but it can also be a significant benefit if you prove to be a reliable tenant with your rent.
Before you get excited about finding a great place to live with a reasonable rent, you should first ask questions specific to that monthly rent charge. You may find that, hidden under all the happiness is a list of issues that may send you looking for another place to live.