It’s not easy being a military renter. Renters face intense competition and limited resources. It’s easy to see that there’s plenty of space for error when you combine a frantic hunt for a last-minute housing solution with the unknowns of shopping for a property only online.
The easiest approach to avoid typical renter blunders is to arm yourself with rental methods in advance. If you want to prevent the stress of relocating permanently, be aware of these hazards.
First Mistake: You Don’t Know Your Budget
When renting a property for the first time, it’s usual for renters to have a list of things they’d like to include in their new place. A prime location, a certain amount of square footage, and high-end furnishings and amenities are typically considered essential. However, these attributes are often at odds with the reality of the economy.
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a good starting point for most military personnel when determining what is a reasonable monthly rent. However, this sum does not take into account all of the considerations that go into a housing budget. The amount of rent you can afford each month should take into account your other debts and savings objectives.
Traditional budgeting guidelines recommend that you spend no more than 30 percent of your gross wage on rent, but there are many more ways to figure out how much money you should spend. However, in a military community, this may not always be possible.
The characteristics of your lifestyle will play a role in your budget calculations. Although your monthly salary in BAH maybe $2,000, this may seem low in a city with a high cost of living. Even if you’re a frequent traveler, an apartment at this price point may not be worth it, especially if you won’t be able to take advantage of the new gym or communal space.
Other Aspects of the Budget to Consider
- Getting renters’ insurance is a one-time cost of a few hundred dollars a year at most. In the event of a flood, a fire, or the development of mold, your homeowner or property management organization will likely only cover the building and not your personal items.
- A rental house search can be challenging if you have terrible credit. It is likely that landlords may charge you higher rent and need larger deposits in order to compensate for their uncertainty about whether you will pay your rent on time each month. Finding an affordable rental house that you adore is much easier when you have a clean and enhanced credit record.
Second Mistake: You Don’t Read the Lease!
It’s true that this is the case: The terminology used in rental agreements varies from state to state, making them difficult to understand. Most tenants don’t want to spend their time going over the fine print for any of these reasons. However, one of the major causes of a tense landlord-tenant relationship is a misread and unexplained rental agreement. To avoid a difficult lease term, both signers must communicate clearly.
Before signing the rental agreement, here are a few things to consider beyond the normal lease inquiries:
- Does the military clause come into play here? The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to both parties, but a military clause specifies scenarios not covered by the SCRA, such as the unexpected availability of military housing, orders to a nearby installation (not covered by the SCRA), or a reverse military clause stating that the owner may break the lease terms and return home early.
- To safeguard your security deposit, request a full move-in and move-out walkthrough list before you move in. This list should capture the condition of the home and any damages. Make a list of what your landlord considers “typical wear and tear.” Keep a copy of the move-in and move-out photos and signed declarations.
- A fenced yard or new appliances discussed verbally should be noted in the lease with agreed-upon deadlines.
- How much do you have to pay for a pet? They’re different. Pet fees and rent are not refundable at the end of the lease, however, the pet deposit may be. Talk to your landlord to see if he or she will give you a full refund.
- Determine when and how often a landlord will come to your home. Monthly, with no prior notice? Is the owner’s visit to town predetermined or is it just a fluke? The property is advertised before you leave, what happens? Are you in charge of showing prospective tenants around the property? The differences are determined by the terms of the lease agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
Third Mistake: Failure to Perform Proper Location Research
It’s easy to overlook the importance of a property’s location once you’ve found the perfect, reasonable rental, especially if the search has been challenging. Crime statistics and noisy neighbors are two of the most important criteria, but there are many more to consider.
Many parents who want their children to attend a public school are shocked to learn that the school zoned near their house is not the one they expected. You may have been misinformed by your landlord about recent neighborhood changes. To avoid disappointment, use the zoning or boundary-finding tool provided by the district.
Observing the traffic patterns of commuters, school buses, and other unknowns while driving past the house at various times of the day is a valuable learning tool. For example, will your driveway be congested from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day by parents picking up their children from school?
Neighborhoods have distinct character traits. Some online and in-person investigations can shed light on how a community works. Is their pet well cared for? Is this a place where children can run around and have fun? There are a lot of older people living nearby. Are they hushed or loud? Is it vital to be able to stroll around the property? Before signing the lease, figure out which lifestyle characteristics are deal-breakers.
The hunt for a rental house can be stressful, and staying on top of the process will help you avoid typical pitfalls. It is difficult to find a rental property with the right price, facilities, and location. But knowing to avoid uncomfortable tenant agreements will shield you from disappointment and financial loss.