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The Most Important Questions to Ask a Landlord Before Signing a Lease

Renting can provide you with the chance to learn money management and how to honor a lease contract without the permanence of a house purchase. If you lack the finances to purchase a house or don’t plan to permanently, renting can be a great option for you. When looking for a home or apartment to rent, it’s crucial that you get clarification on any concerns, and ask questions to get the landlord to give information they may not otherwise share. Rental associations only share a select amount of information online or in listings, and oftentimes the most important details aren’t made publicly available. Asking certain questions will help you to learn the necessary information to enter the lease agreement from a safe position and reveals nitty-gritty pieces about the contract, the property, or the landlord. For your safety, make sure that you’re protected with Renters Insurance and have the answers to these questions before entering into a contract. What Are the Application and Qualification Requirements? Normally, properties require renters to earn three times the monthly rent each month, though some may allow a co-sign if you make less. Most landlords also do background and credit checks. Make sure you know what information you’ll have to provide and if you think you’ll qualify. Being aware of this up front is helpful to prevent you and your roommates from wasting time on units that aren’t a fit. It is important to fully understand all screenings, application fees, and if there are non-refundable deposits. Familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant regulations and laws. Are There Utilities or Extra Costs? Clarify what utilities are included in the rent. Note that there are many factors in calculating utilities costs including square footage, location, and time of year. Have a rough estimate of utility costs and find out utility costs for the particular property you’re interested in to ensure that you can afford the property. Utilities commonly included are water, electricity, and garbage. In addition to utilities, the unit may also have some extra costs associated with it. Is parking included, or will you have to pay a monthly fee for a parking spot at your residence? If you have a pet, will there be a required pet deposit? How Does Payment Work? If the landlord only takes cash, you might want to reconsider. This isn’t a typical…
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Attention, Renters: Look Out For These Red Flags

When leasing a residence, you may think that you can put up with certain problems because it’s a temporary arrangement, or you might not be aware of the myriad risks that come with being a renter. Many ignored factors or mild issues during an initial tour could become a huge problem later on when you’re locked into a lease, so be certain what you’re getting into and keep your eyes open for these red flags during the renting process. Property Condition Never sign a lease until you’re satisfied with the property’s condition. Make sure everything in the home works and take note of any pre-existing damage, so you won’t be charged for them later. If you can, take photographs and date them. Landlords should provide a list of components in each room, such as carpeting, electrical outlets, light fixtures, doors, windows, locks, painting, and kitchen and bathroom appliances. Components not in good working condition must be reported to the landlord, and be attended to before moving in. Knowledge of Roommates It’s common to live with roommates when renting, but not all landlords allow it. Even if you’re signing the lease with a roommate, you never know if that person will move out and you’ll want another roommate to move in. Alternatively, you might travel for an extended period of time and want to get a subletter to save yourself the unnecessary expenses. Some landlords will want to approve any new roommates or may not allow them at all. Find out expectations upfront and make sure they are specified in the lease. The Neighborhood To indicate the area’s safety, check out the complex after dark when most everyone is home to see the real personality of the building and neighborhood. Notice how many people enter and leave the building, unusual noises, areas of congregation, and the types of vehicles are on the property. Take note of any police activity in the area. Landlord Inspection Clauses Check for lease provisions that entitle the landlord to make unannounced inspections and statements permitting unlimited visits. Inspections should be performed on a limited basis, and with proper notice. Be aware of any provisions that will unfairly restrict your rights. Areas of Responsibility Normally landlords will provide specific services listed in the lease. You can negotiate for any others you feel should be included before signing, although don’t be surprised…
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How to Settle Landlord Disputes Without Filing a Claim

No one wants to have conflict with their landlords. Sometimes disputes are avoidable, but other times they are inevitable. If there is a dispute already in the works, know that filing a claim isn’t always necessary. Renters Insurance is there as an additional line of defense to protect you and your property, but keep your mind at ease by familiarizing yourself on how to settle a dispute without court intervention. Know the Law First and foremost, by knowing your state’s renting laws you may be able to completely avoid a dispute before it even begins. This is a necessary subject to be educated in as a tenant, as it allows you to try to take matters into your own hands and find a solution yourself before taking it to a higher level. It is common for issues to arise due to one side honestly not knowing that they have broken an agreement or being unsure of certain rights. This simple tactic will help you dodge problems that didn’t have to be there in the first place. Be fair to yourself and your landlord by learning renting laws and adequately staying up on law changes; it will help you both out. Remain Calm and Collected If issues do arise, be sure to keep your cool. Remain calm and collected so things don’t get out of hand, and you’ll be able to handle the situation in a logical manner. If your landlord is not cooperating and is being too difficult, you may end up needing to seek legal assistance. However, always try to handle situations in a civilized fashion between you and your landlord first. Determine the scope of the problem to have a clear understanding on the severity of the issue at hand. You never want to make a problem bigger than it has to be. It’s always a good idea to try to keep a positive tenant-landlord relationship if possible. Meet with Them Arrange a meeting in a neutral territory to speak with your landlord in person. That face-to-face interaction could reinforce a positive relationship and provide a clearer understanding of the issues at hand from both perspectives. Remain open-minded and listen to their views while also explaining your points. When both sides feel heard, it is more likely to lead to a solution. In an undemanding manner, make sure your…
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5 Important Questions to Ask Before Moving Into a Rental Home

Renting an apartment is a necessity for most, especially when you’re just starting out in your career. Fast forward a few years, and you might have some kids and a spouse but aren’t ready to buy just yet. Renting a home provides more space and privacy than a multiunit dwelling, but requires a bit more forethought and research before moving in. In this article, we’ll cover the important questions everyone should ask before moving into a rental home. Most importantly, protect your new dwelling and your assets with a New York Renters Insurance policy. Do your research. Scout out the local area, and this means more than just seeing how far away it is from work and what the home looks like. Is it next to a major street? Is it a heavily populated area? Is it next to loud bars and restaurants? Is there an airport nearby where you’ll hear planes all day? Remember your furry friends. Most landlords have pretty reasonable pet policies. However, be prepared to negotiate the terms of your furry friends living in the rental unit before setting your heart on the place. Make sure the landlord doesn’t have weight, breed or number of dog restrictions. Ask about certain clauses in your rental agreement. A break clause means that a “fixed-term tenancy can be ended at 6 months”, according to James Plunkett, head of consumer research at Citizens Advice. However, it’s important to check out the specific wording of the clause to see the conditions: “For example, that there are no existing rent arrears when the tenant wants to activate the clause.” A release clause runs along similar lines, but might involve the tenant “paying a fee to release themselves from the agreement at any time”, Plunkett says. It also usually means that the tenant has to find someone to replace them, as well as paying the fee. Include stipulations in the rental agreement. If you want walls painted, carpets steam cleaned, or a deep cleaning of the house before your move in date, set up these stipulations in the tenancy agreement. Have these terms written out and signed before transferring any money to the landlord. Take inventory. The last thing you need is to be charged for damages that were there prior to you moving in. A good way to mitigate this is to…
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Westchester County Personal Insurance: Is Insurance on your College Checklist?

Westchester County Personal Insurance: Is Insurance on your College Checklist? The first day of college is similar to the first day of kindergarten, in that it’s a momentous event that may or may not involve tears. Preparing for college is as important to parents as it is to their children. For many, a “college checklist” is an adjunct for preparation; a cork board to adorn with old pictures, a hamper small enough to take home during breaks and if you’re lucky, a flat screen.  But what about reviewing your insurance policies? In the midst of purchasing bedding and choosing the best dormitory, reviewing insurance policies is often overlooked. However, it’s essential to add insurance onto your “college checklist.” So, before you start sending your kids off to college, ask yourself the following question: And does my child intend to bring any valuable items? Is my child going to live on-campus or off-campus? Is my child bringing his/her car to college? And take the following steps: Whether your child is moving on or off campus, it’s essential to create an inventory of all personal belongings. Create an excel sheet, note the items, calculate its estimated value and take a picture. Be sure to note high-value items (e.g. laptop, television, camera, jewelry). Speak with your Westchester County insurance agent to determine the extent of coverage provided by your homeowners’ policy. If coverage is available, ask if it’s only applicable to students residing on-campus (as it often does). If your child is going to live off-campus, be sure to purchase renters insurance. It’s inexpensive and worthwhile. The cost of Westchester County auto insurance varies depending on whether your child is taking their car to school or not.  Insurance agencies often re-evaluate the cost and factor in numerous variables, such as college’s location. At A.J. Benet, Inc., we take pride in the relationships we have established with our individual clients – addressing their changing insurance needs as milestones in their lives occur. From an individual’s first car purchase to the family’s minivan and a teenager’s new set of wheels, to a rented townhouse in Westchester County, a dream house overlooking the harbor in Larchmont, or a new condo in Manhattan as an empty nester, A.J. Benet is there to protect you, your family, and assets wherever life takes you. We invite you to review…
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Mamaroneck Renters Insurance: Apartment Walk-through Checklist

Mamaroneck Renters Insurance: Apartment Walk-through Checklist You’ve signed the lease, packed up the bags. But before you move into that brand new apartment, make sure to schedule an apartment walk-through with the landlord. Similar to a home safety checklist, our apartment walk-through checklist can help ensure that you avoid any fees for damages inflicted by the previous tenant when you move out. Here’s our Apartment Walk-through Checklist Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #1 – Come prepared. Bring a camera to document any problem areas or damages you find. During the walk-through, take notes. And, it helps to bring a tape measure to make sure your furniture will fit through them- it will ease any moving difficulties ahead of time. Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #2 – The basics. Keep an eye out for insect or rodent infestation, such as droppings or chew marks. Plug your cell phone charger into the outlets. And make sure home phone and cable jacks are available, functioning, and accessible. Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #3 – Safety checks. Proper fire safety equipment should be installed throughout the apartment. This includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers. Make sure all safety equipment is working, and located in the proper areas. If you’re living in a large apartment complex, find the fire escape plan and make sure you know where to go in the event of a fire or other emergency. Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #4 – Doors & windows. Check that all windows and doors open and close properly, and make sure the screens on all the windows are intact. Test all the locks; if there is more than one type of lock, make sure you the necessary keys. Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #5 –Bathroom & Kitchen. Run all the faucets, and check for leaks underneath the sinks. Make sure all the appliances and plumbing are working as well. Check the shower head, and make sure the water heats up, and the water pressure is good. Apartment Walk-through Checklist Tip #6 – Bedroom & Living Room. Check all light switches, and test the air conditioner. Look for cracks in the wall, and check aesthetic details such as carpet stains, chipped paint, or nail holes in the wall. When the walkthrough is complete, schedule any repairs, and make sure to sign a document detailing the agreed-upon condition of the property.  Make sure to be detailed and thorough, and take…
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