The Ultimate List of Tenants’ Mistakes to Avoid

There are dozens of things that can go wrong when you decide to rent a property. The list of mistakes all tenants make is winter long. And although it is effective to blunder into things on your own, it is still better to learn from other people’s mistakes. We’ve taken the time to study the topic and created the ultimate list of tenant’s mistakes to avoid. Devote 18 minutes of your day to reading and save hours and hundreds of dollars later on.

Lifestyle mistakes

Not running a credit report

Most people believe that when they rent a property, it all comes down to money. However, this is only partially true. While your ability to pay rent and move-in costs is obviously important, there are certain factors that landlords value even more. What all landlords care about is your trustworthiness. They tend to give preference to those applicants who can boast of a good credit score. That is why you need to take care of it in order to get a property of your dream.

Changing apartments way too often

Most landlords take a dim view of tenants who move more than twice during a 3-year period of time. No wonder they do. What is the reason for such a frequent change of accommodation? Landlords are most likely to suspect such tenants in an inappropriate behavior, breaches of agreements, and so forth. Most landlords are interested in a long-term lease, so they try to avoid renters who move in and out all the time.

Having an unstable career

If you change your workplace too often, it might look like a warning sign to your future landlord. Firstly, because it represents you as an impulsive person. Secondly, because it means your income is not stable enough. If you change jobs far too frequently, chances are that one day you’ll have a transitory period with no stable source of income. This might affect your landlord’s decision in a negative way.

Not paying the bills on time

Your landlord won’t be happy to find out any problems in your credit history. During the process of tenant screening, all issues like unpaid speeding fines, overdue loans or credit lines will be revealed. If you don’t want your credit history to ruin your entire application, do your best to pay all debts before sending your applications for a new accommodation.

While-looking-for-a-property mistakes

Not investigating the neighborhood

One of the most unpleasant discoveries you can make after moving in a wonderful home is a troublesome neighborhood. If you don’t like the idea of waking up in the midnight because of a loud train passing by, and if you prefer calm neighbors over party animals, then you should take some time to investigate the area around your future home. While some problems might be obvious, others might require a deeper exploration. Feel free to ask your neighbors about the area. This will help you kill two birds with one stone. Not only will you find out what you need, but you will also start building new social ties with people living around.

Investigating the neighborhood before move in

Visiting open houses without your roommate

There is no doubt that finding a new home is a time-consuming process and you can spend days and even weeks before getting a perfect one. In order to save time, a lot of tenants visit prospective homes separately from their significant others or roommates-to-be. Although it seems reasonable at first glance, it can cause more harm than good in the end. There are two problems with it. Firstly, your choice of a property might not satisfy your future roomie. Secondly, today’s market is so hot that your dream home can be gone before both of you arrive to see it together. By a good chance, Rentberry allows looking through the properties online and applying for them simultaneously with your roommate.

Not comparing rental rates

They say things cost as much as we are ready to pay for them. This pretty much explains why properties of a similar quality can have a significant gap in price even though they are located in the same neighborhood. If you want to rent your home at a fair market price, you should spend some time comparing prices for similar properties. Become familiar with average market prices and use Rentberry’s custom offer feature to negotiate over the price with your landlord. We worked hard to ensure a transparent rental application process, and you are welcome to make use of it. As a tenant, you are able to see the highest price proposed for a property you are interested in. This way, you’ll be able to make an educated offer to the landlord.

Judging the property only by a square footage

Although it is completely reasonable to judge properties based on their size, you should keep in mind that it all comes down to a layout. The truth is that a small apartment with a favorable layout and multiple mirrors might feel larger than a 1000 square footage property with a boring hallway. So, your primary goal is to have an open mind and consider each property individually.

Looking for an unaffordable property

There is a rule of thumb to strive for the best but stay reasonable. Although millions of Americans report spending half their income on rent, you are strongly advised to earn at least 2.5 times more than your monthly rent. Looking for apartments beyond your budget is associated with two problems. First, you landlord is likely to decline your proposal. Second, even if your application is accepted, you might get into a jam in a few months after moving in.

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When-signing-a-contract mistakes

Making a verbal contract

They say it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is completely ok to trust your landlord, but it does not mean you can skip signing a rental agreement. The truth is that a verbal contract is impossible to prove, and it might be a problem if your landlord does not like to keep on promises. Getting the contract in writing can prevent both of you from misunderstanding. In fact, you should get a written proof of all points of discussion with your landlord. For instance, if your landlord promises to get you a new fridge or to fix a leaking tap, make sure to document it as well.

Making verbal contract with your landlord

Not reading your rental agreement

Signing a rental agreement without actually reading it can get you into a serious trouble. You should understand that this contract is more important that those digital agreements you e-sign before starting to use a software from the Internet. While it is acceptable to tick ‘I agree’ button without even a quick glance at the text, it is highly inadvisable to act the same way with rental agreements. If you fail to read the entire document before leaving your signature, you’d better get ready for surprises. Unexpected things might happen to your security deposit, the price of monthly rent, and so on.

Not asking for the changes to the rental agreement on time

Hope you took our previous piece of advice seriously and read your rental agreement from cover to cover. What you need to do next is rather simple yet immensely important. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I really feel good about each point of this document? Does my lifestyle correspond to all the terms and conditions stated in the contract? Is there something I would really like to change? If something in the contract feels wrong, don’t be shy to say it out loud. Keep in mind that contracts are meant to be mutually beneficial.

Not requesting the copies of documents

We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your rental agreement and move-in checklist. While the first document can be used as a reference to your tenant’s rights and responsibilities, the second one is the only proof of how the property looked like when you moved in. If you fail to keep the copies, it can be hard to claim your security deposit back, should any issues occur. With Rentberry, though, all your documents will be securely stored online, and you’ll be able to access them from any place at any time.

Not asking questions when something is not clear

Most landlords use standard rental agreements, so there is a good chance that some specific issues about your future home might not be mentioned in the document. It is in your best interest to clarify everything before leaving your signature. Take your time to come up with a list of questions regarding the specific rules and instructions that might be necessary. For example, you might need to know if you are responsible for looking after the garden and whether there are any yard tools to help you do this. If you fail to clarify things, in the beginning, you may get blamed for no reason later on.

Not sharing the contacts of your former landlords and employers

Although you are not obliged to provide information about your ex-landlords and former employers, this gesture will make you look trustworthy in the eyes of your prospective landlord. By giving this information to your future landlord, you prove that you have nothing to hide, which is obviously a positive sign.

Concealing past eviction

Being faithful with your landlord is the best thing you can do as a tenant. If you’ve been evicted some day in the past, make sure to inform your landlord on this matter. The truth will out anyway, but it’s much better if this will happen at your convenience. Background checks reveal all information of this kind, so you’d better tell the truth by yourself.

Take few shots of your new home

Not inspecting the condition of a new home

It is completely ok to feel excited about your new home, but try to keep your eyes open. If you are looking for a long-term rent, you’d better ensure that the property will serve you well for a long time. You’d better check that the roof and the taps are not leaking, and the paint on the walls is not peeling off. In case you notice some problems that require a quick fix, you should discuss it with your landlord right away. You are also advised to take pictures of any damages you see. Plus, you’d better show them to your landlord immediately and make sure to mention them in your move-in checklist. In case your landlord does not have a checklist, create one by yourself and share it with them.

While-renting-a-home mistakes

Not buying a renter’s insurance

If you are a first time tenant, chances are that you know nothing about a renter’s insurance. The most important thing you should know is that even if you live in a property covered by your landlord, this insurance has nothing to do with your personal belongings. To put it differently, you need to have your own renters insurance if you want your possessions to be financially protected. It is true that force majeures like floods or earthquakes do not happen frequently, but when they do, all you have can be destroyed. To keep yourself from trouble, make sure to purchase a policy right after signing a contract. The good news is that such type of insurance does not cost a lot. The prices vary between $100 and $300 per year, and it is definitely worth it.

Not informing your landlord about the damage & repairs

The world is not perfect, and it is completely ok when things get broken. Some tenants feel embarrassed or even scared when they have to inform their landlords about a damage. However, such feelings are completely unjustified. There is no point in postponing the moment of truth. The sooner your landlord learns about the problem, the better. What’s more, if you decide to make some major changes such as painting the walls or installing a new washing machine, you’d better inform your landlord about such plans in advance. As experience confirms, landlords do not like surprises.

Failing to pay rent on time without a prior notification

Even if you are the most responsible human being on the planet, life is unpredictable. No matter how punctual you are, one day you may find yourself running late with a monthly rent. When something like that happens, you should notify your landlord about a problem as soon as possible. Chances are that your landlord depends greatly on the money you pay, and your delay might cause him troubles. Keep in mind that a long-term rent is a business, and both parties have their responsibilities. Make sure to deliver yours on time or at least inform the other party when things go wrong.

Paying too much rent

Most tenants are not aware of it, but there are ways to cut down expenses on a long-term rent. First of all, it is strongly advised to search for property in the middle of the month. Statistics tell us that there are not so many people out for apartment hunting during this period of the month, so you can save some hundreds by acting against the mainstream. Second of all, you can save money by signing a longer lease. A lot of landlords offer discounts for those looking for a long-term rent. Third of all, try to rent from individual landlords. As experience shows, they tend to be less mercenary.

Not knowing your rights as a tenant

There are plenty of things that can go wrong between you and your landlord. They might ignore your maintenance request, increase your monthly rent dramatically, or visit your apartment too often without a prior notice. The complete list of possible problems is long and full of sadness, so there’s no point in placing it here. However, there is no need for too much worry. As a tenant, you are legally protected by a number of laws and acts. So feel free to refer to legal information should any problems occur. Keep in mind that tenants rights may differ from state to state, so make sure to check those that apply for your location.

Neglecting a renter tax benefit

The majority of landlords pass their duty of paying property taxes to their tenants in a form of a higher price for rent. However, it needs to be taken into account that both landlords and tenants benefit from the roads, schools, and other state-financed institutions such taxes usually pay for. That is why some states have made an attempt to correct the situation. They provided a special tax credit for renters. So far, such a policy is used in Maryland, California, and Missouri, but things change fast, and you are strongly encouraged to contact your local tax department to make sure you pay all you are supposed to pay.

Requesting to postpone payments

Life happens and no one is completely guaranteed against unforeseen circumstances. This means that one day you can find yourself in some kind of emergency that will force you to ask your landlord to postpone payments. Experience shows that such requests put landlords on alert. If you request a delay once, it might not be a problem. However, if it falls into a habit, you are likely to gain a reputation of a bad tenant.

Don't hire your pets from landlord

Hiding your pets

If you sneak your pets in without your landlord’s consent, be prepared for unpleasant consequences. In a best-case scenario, your landlord will ask you to pay a pet deposit or increase your monthly rent. At the worst, however, you’ll be evicted. Wonder what you can do to avoid such problems? Search for a pet-friendly apartment in the first place. If it seems like a problem to you, follow the guide on our blog.

Expecting your landlord to take care of all repairs

While your landlord is legally responsible for making certain major repairs, it does not mean you should not fix anything by yourself. Ideally, all the details on maintenance and repairs should be clearly stated in your rental agreement. The best course of actions, however, is to communicate with your landlord openly when there is a need. By a good chance, Rentberry provides a user-friendly system for instant messaging between landlords and tenants.

Sharing room with too many roommates

Squeezed but pleased might not work out as landlords steer clear of crowds of students in their property. Jam-packed rooms never serve for a long time, and landlords are well aware of this fact. Besides, the fire department puts a limit on the quantity of people that can be safely placed in one room. When looking for an apartment, keep in mind that a landlord will allow two people per bedroom at most.

When-moving-out mistakes

Leaving your stuff when moving out

One day all lease agreements come to an end, and this is when you need to pack your stuff and go. Although this stage of a rental process does not seem problematic, there are some points you should keep in mind. The first and foremost rule is to make sure to take all of your belongings by the due date. It is recommended to start with the most valuable things and continue moving out until the property is totally empty (or contains nothing that belongs to you). Bear in mind that landlords have a legal right to do whatever their want with tenant’s belongings after the end of a lease. If your landlord allows you to collect your stuff later, make sure to get a written proof of this permit.

Not letting your landlord know in writing that you are leaving

There are many mistakes tenants can do, but this one is definitely a chief among them. Nothing is worse than not letting your landlord know about your plans to leave earlier. The problem regarding this mistake is twofold. Foremost, you fail to perform your part of a contract. Additionally, you risk your entire background history. Angry or disappointed landlords are less likely to return your security deposit and provide you with a positive reference later. If your plans suddenly change, brace yourself and try to negotiate. Plus, make sure to keep your conversation in writing.

Not getting your security deposit back

If you want to get your security deposit back, it is recommended to keep property intact while always paying rent on time. If something gets broken because of you or your pet, the best thing you can do is to fix the damage at your own expenses or use your tenant’s insurance (hopefully, you have one). If you fail to do so, get ready to lose your security deposit when moving out.

If you made it here, chances are that you know twice as much as an average tenant. This means that you are likely to skip the most of the mistakes and make your entire rental experience as seamless as possible. Feel free to use our advice and pass your knowledge to other tenants-to-be.


  1. Victor Draper says:

    As a new landlord not wanting to learn the hard way, how does one handle a tenants new boyfriend/girlfriend that they argue is just hanging out, but is actually living and moved into a unit?

  2. PORTIQO says:

    The list is exhaustive and covers all the possible mistakes tenants tend to do.I feel that it is very important to have proper finance plan before getting into any sort of agreements as you have rightly pointed out. This is a must read article for to be tenants.

  3. Alex says:

    I’ve NEVER read the rental agreement in my life. Last time it turned out that my friend couldn’t stay at my place for a week, so I had huuuge problems with the landlord. Promised myself to read the whole goddamn thing next time!

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