The new American dream is affordable rent.
“Underscoring a growing trend, previous homeowners are turning toward renting,” says Apartments.com. Just over half of more than 2,000 former homeowners said they prefer renting in the company’s new national survey. The top reasons: no unexpected repairs (70 percent), low maintenance (54 percent), and the flexibility to move (39 percent).
Just after that, 38 percent said renting was more affordable than ownership. But the same study says the national average rent is $1,194 and still climbing. Another study, from rental site HotPads, looks at how much you can save in major cities by rooming with someone in a bigger apartment rather than getting a studio for yourself.
Former homeowners don’t have to deal with fluctuating taxes, flood insurance, and fixing their own roof leaks anymore, but there’s still a lot to learn. For instance, 84 percent of Americans don’t know how much renters insurance costs and 22 percent believe it costs more than $1,000 a year, according to InsuranceQuotes.com. Actually, it averages less than $16 per month.
Fortunately, Debt.com has an expert who learned it all the hard way — Angela Colley’s got strategies to save on rent, the ins and outs of renter’s insurance, and finding roommates you don’t want to murder. Now’s a good time to round up all her advice for these new renters…
You’ll find tips anywhere you look online, but not everybody talks to the president of a property management firm. Angela explains how save as much as half and still live in walking distance of downtown, how to fight illegal rent increases, and what hidden fees to look for.
Angela knows enough about bad landlords herself — she once caught one snooping around her apartment in the middle of the night while she was showering — but gets advice from an expert. Some of the tell-tale signs: Rushing you through a tour of the place, and failing to call you back within a few hours.
If you’re not sure whether your landlord’s property insurance does anything for you, don’t know what natural disasters are covered by renters insurance, and aren’t sure how much coverage you get, Angela’s interview with an insurance agent will clear things up.
How do you avoid a roommate that flashes her boobs at your dates and throws furniture? Sadly (but hilariously), this is another area Angela has personal experience with.
Even if you haven’t left your home for apartment life yet, Angela has advice for you: Become a landlord and a renter. She talked to a real estate agent about turning your former home into a moneymaker.
Moving with pets brings a lot of extra hassle — some places don’t allow them, or have size and breed restrictions. There are almost always pet deposits, but there may even be pet rent. Angela explains how she and her 68-pound beast have survived in New Orleans, and shares advice from another property management firm.
It’s a lot easier to find an apartment with a computer than by driving around looking for signs — but it’s riskier, too. Angela compiles a list of the most reputable sites, offers advice on analyzing everything from the promotional photos to the reviews.
You might think your landlord knows more about renting law than you do — but you might be wrong. You definitely will know more than they do after reading a real estate attorney’s insights on security deposits, evictions, and court costs.