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Protect Yourself as a Tenant

by | Apr 15, 2011 | Renter's Rights, Renting 101 | 0 comments

Do you know how to protect yourself as a renter of a property? The Austin Tenants Council published a smart resource for all tenants, to ensure the best relationship between landlord and renter.

1. GET IT IN WRITING
• Put any promises that the landlord makes in writing, including apartment number and necessary repairs.

2. KEEP COPIES OF ALL AGREEMENTS & PAPERWORK
• Ask for copies of the application, lease, pet agreement, inventory, and any lease addenda immediately after signing them.

3. BE SURE YOU WANT TO LIVE THERE
• Most application fees and deposits are nonrefundable if you change your mind once you’ve applied. If the landlord does not approve your application, the deposit should be fully
refunded.

4. LOOK AT THE ACTUAL UNIT BEFORE YOU RENT
• Do not assume your unit will look exactly like the model. Make sure you view the actual unit before submitting your application or signing a lease. Landlords usually have the right to show an occupied unit even if they say otherwise.

5. TALK TO NEIGHBORS & VISIT THE COMPLEX AND NEIGHBORHOOD AT NIGHT
• The current residents can tell you about the landlord: Does he make repairs? Does he enter the unit without permission?
• Drive by at night to see if the neighborhood is noisy or if there is a lot of unwanted activity.

6. MAKE A LIST OF DAMAGES RIGHT AFTER YOU MOVE IN
• If the landlord doesn’t give you an inventory sheet, write your own.
• Take pictures, if possible.

7. REQUEST REPAIRS IN WRITING
• Written notice is required to enforce your rights. Keep a copy as proof you notified the landlord of the repairs.
• Send the letter by certified or registered mail.

8. GET RENT RECEIPTS FROM THE LANDLORD
• If you pay by money order, the stub does not prove the landlord received the rent, only that you bought it.
• Whenever possible, hand-deliver rent.
• NEVER pay cash without getting a receipt from the landlord.

9. GIVE WRITTEN NOTICE BEFORE YOU MOVE OUT
• Most leases require written notice of 30 or 60 days before moving.
• Some leases require the notice to be given at a certain time of the month.

10. CALL THE AUSTIN TENANTS’ COUNCIL IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS
• We also provide in-house counseling. Appointments are recommended and a small fee may apply.

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