Renting Property / Landlord-Tenant Issues
BBB Renter's Guide
Before you rent
The rental market is in high demand and there much to consider before renting an apartment or home. Think about things like what you can afford, where you want to live, the application process, your credit report and FICO score and security deposits. Prepare yourself by:
-Knowing what you can afford. Try to aim for rents no higher than 30 percent of your income.
-Checking property management companies and housing facilities with the BBB first. Find BBB Accredited businesses at www.findacompany.org
-Personally visiting properties and meeting landlords or leasing agents in person. Don't make choices based on Internet browsing only.
-Pulling your credit report and knowing your credit score. Poor credit or no credit affects your eligibility and can even affect rental costs. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. There may be a cost to see your actual credit score, however.
-Setting aside enough money for first and last month's rent payments, deposits and other moving costs.
Before you sign
Signing a lease or rental agreement is the same as signing any other binding contract. It's extremely important to carefully read, fully understand and agree with each section of the lease before you sign it. Here are key sections of lease agreements to pay close attention:
Payments: Be clear on what your rent payment is each month and if it includes utilities, trash, water, etc.-or if those bills are paid separately. Be clear on when all payments are due, how they can be paid, when payments are considered late and what late fees will be charged.
Security Deposits: Security deposits are collected at the time the lease begins to cover things like damages or unpaid rent existing at the end of the lease. If you leave the property in the same condition it was when you moved in, despite normal wear and tear, and have no outstanding payments, you should receive your security deposit back. Do a walk-through of your rental and note existing damages so you aren't held liable for them at the end of your lease.
Rights & Responsibilities
The Warranty of Habitability Act: This Colorado Act adopted in 2008 fosters quality rental housing and establishes legal protections for tenants if their homes become uninhabitable. Under the Act, if a rental has deficient roofing, walls, windows, locks, plumbing, gas, water, heating, electrical systems, etc. that are not fixed by the landlord after you have given written notice, you can pursue remedies such as injunction, lease termination or rent abatement.
Three-Day Notices: A landlord can give you a three-day notice, which will tell you either: 1) you must do something within three days to correct a problem (pay rent, stop violating a rule) or 2) the problem cannot resolved and you must vacate within three days.
Move-Out Notice: Toward the end of your lease, it is your responsibility to give notice that you plan to move out. Most leases require this to be given in writing 30 to 60 days before your planned move-out date.
Security Deposits: Your landlord must refund any applicable security deposit, and provide an accounting of how your deposit was spent, within 30 days after you've vacated, or the time frame detailed in your lease, not to exceed 60 days.
(Source: The Colorado Renter's Guide 2009-2010)
The BBB hears about it happening on Craigslist all the time: rental scams. You think there is a house or apartment for rent that you really like but the landlord isn't really a landlord at all: they're a scammer.
With the cost of rent skyrocketing in Colorado, it's important for those looking for a place to know the red flags of a rental scam:
The deal sounds too good to be true.
The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to communicate via email.
The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the property.
The landlord asks the renter to wire money through services such as Western Union or Money Gram.
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