Finding your next great rental is hard enough. Don’t sabotage yourself by making these never-do mistakes.

  1. Never Rent Sight-Unseen

Browsing online listings is a great way to find a new home. But before sending money or signing a lease, make sure you actually visit the apartment in person.

Even if there are plenty of pictures provided online, you never know what might be missing. You can’t fully see- or smell- the place, or see the 10 junk cars in the neighbor’s yard.

Rental scams, especially on Craigslist are becoming more common. Thieves will create a fake ad and attempt to extort money from unsuspecting tenants.

  1. Ignoring Damage No Matter How Small

A professional property manager will document the condition of a rental unit. However, this is not always done by other landlords. When you arrive, take photos of any damage you find in the rental, even if it seems insignificant. As a renter, you can be held liable for any damage (less normal wear and tear) when you move out. If damages are not documented, you run the risk of not getting your security deposit back.

  1. Not Knowing If Utilities Are Included

Imagine moving into your dream apartment that’s within your budget only to realize you have to pay for water, electricity, gas, garbage, monthly maintenance, and more. Even if you have a good handle on who pays for what in advance, you should ask what the normal electricity bill is per month so there are no surprises.

  1. Not Reading the Lease

Reading a standard lease document can be tedious, but it is important. You don’t want to discover terms of the lease later by surprise.

Take indoor pets for example: some condominium properties might say they allow dogs, but in the fine print you discover breed/weight restrictions that might leave Fido out in the cold.

  1. Assuming All Terms Are Created Equal

Make sure you’re aware of how long you’re expected to live in the rental. Your lease should state whether it’s a month-to-month rental agreement or a fixed-term lease.

Rental agreements generally mean you’re renting from month to month on a self-renewing basis. A fixed-term lease, however, is likely for a duration of six months to a year. To avoid any surprises (or fees for violating the agreement), make sure you’re completely clear on how long you’re expected to occupy the apartment rental. If you leave before a fixed rental term is up, you are responsible for the remaining term of the lease, or until it is re-rented.

  1. Not Accounting for Move-in Costs

Up-front costs are among the biggest challenges for would-be renters. In Hawaii, landlords and rental companies cannot charge more that one month’s rent for a deposit. However, there may be an application fee, a pet fee, and deposits to set up utilities. These are all things that need to be budgeted for.

  1. Saying unwise things when applying to rent

Here are a few gems from that should nexer be said when you are trying to rent a home or apartment:

  • “I hate my old landlord”

Never tell a new landlord you hate your old one. A bad attitude could trigger a red flag.

  • “I can’t wait to get a puppy!”

Even if pets are allowed, landlords may be hesitant toward future puppies. Prove you’re responsible first.

  • “My partner works nearby.” Or here’s one we heard recently- “My boyfriend lives on the beach to be closer to work.”

Leave out information on your significant other unless this person will be on the lease.

  • “I move all the time.”

When tenants move, it costs landlords money. They want to feel like you’ll stick around.

We know it’s a tough market for renters right now, with available rentals exceeding demand. Hopefully this tips will give you an advantage. Check our listings weekly, and if you see something you like, apply right away online.