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Moving?

Moving? Ten things to consider 
Maybe you are making the transition from school to work in another community. Maybe you are seeking a more affordable rental home. Maybe school summer break is a good time to make a family move. Whatever the reason, there are some things to consider before leaping into the rental market. 

1. Check your lease to see if you can move. If you are in a month-to-month agreement, you may terminate the agreement with a 30 days notice...on or before the rental due date. If you are in a written lease, you need to READ YOUR LEASE to determine when the lease is up. Sometimes leases will automatically renew 30, 45, 60 or 90 days before the end of the term. Make sure that you have avoided that trap if you are planning to move. 

2. Screening has changed things. More landlords are doing more screening. Be prepared to provide lot more information. Be prepared to address “deficiencies” in your rental record. If you know of past evictions, be prepared to explain and to respond with other landlord references. Always tell the truth! 
If you are denied a unit after screening, get the denial in writing.

3. Don't be lured by discounts. There's a reason why landlords are offering “one month free” or $99 Security deposits. Sometimes checking on line for tenant comments can be helpful, but keep in mind that property owners will sometimes pay for bogus reviews and angry tenants may slam owners unfairly.. Issues like exorbitant utility costs, flooding in wet weather and slow response to maintenance requests will often show up in on line reviews. 

4. A deposit to hold a unit is not a security deposit, is not protected by law, and may not be a deposit at all. Get everything in writing including the conditions under which your deposit can be refunded. If the prospective landlord won't put it in writing, keep your wallet in your pocket. In Ohio, agreements between prospective landlords and tenants are not covered by the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act,

5. Watch out for hidden fees or charges in the application process and in the lease you are offered. Have someone review your lease and advise you if you don't understand. Don't rely on the landlord's explanation. Pay special attention to charges for a credit check. Know the difference between a pet deposit and a pet fee. Know how you are getting your utility service. If the gas and electric are not coming from a regulated utility, you will probably be paying a marked up rate, estimated billing, and a monthly service charge. You will not be eligible for Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) if you are getting service from a utility reseller. Same with water. Be sure your provider is a local government (or a regulated provider like Aqua America.) Sometimes landlords buy water in bulk from a supplier then sell the water to the tenants on estimated bills with a mark up. More on utility reselling here.

6. If the landlord wants you to take on additional duties in exchange for lower rent, make a separate agreement. You don't want to put your home in jeopardy over a disagreement over work to be done. An agreement that specifies the scope of the work, the timetable for completion, the value of the rent deduction, and who pays for materials. 

7. Get a copy of everything  you sign. Get a written receipt (not a money order stub) for any money that you give to a prospective landlord. 

8. Watch out for rental scams. Rent scams were big business a couple years ago, but they have not gone away. RHINO has “screening your landlord” and suggestions for avoiding rent scams at http://home.rhinohio.com/choose/screening-prospective-landlords 

9. Consider the total cost of occupancy. Look at the utility bills for the past 12 months to see what energy costs you can expect. Figure out the cost of getting to work, school, or family and friends. If you are suddenly responsible for yard maintenance, factor in the cost of a mower.

10. Sharpen your rental image. RHINO member Emily advises: “Don't be late for a meeting with a landlord. Don't skip out on a meeting either. A landlord may assume that if you bail on a meeting, you'll be likely to bail on rent. If you have to reschedule, call as soon as possible. Manners matter. Being rude or demanding will not get you in the door to a new place faster. What landlord wants to deal with a tenant with an attitude who doesn't care about other people? Dress like you're going to work or to a job interview. 'Neat and clean' communicates how you plan to take care of your rental home.”  Remember that your rental image includes your social media image. (LINK)

There's lots more info on home search here.
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