Advice for former homeowners who now rent
As homeowners who lost their homes due to financial hardship continue to join the renters market, several factors need to be considered before committing to a property.
According to U.S. Census data, single-family home rentals was the fastest-growing segment of the rental market from 2005 to 2010.
Nationwide, Better Business Bureau received hundreds of complaints against the rental industry last year, making it one of BBB's top 25 most complained about industries. Locally, BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona processed 277 complaints related to rental services in 2011.
“Renting a house or apartment compared to previously owning your own home brings many new responsibilities to tenants,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB president/CEO. “Knowing your rights as a tenant before a problem occurs, or even before selecting a property, could help avoid an uncomfortable living situation.”
BBB offers the following tips to help those looking for rental properties have a positive experience:
• Visit each rental property before putting down a deposit. Tour the property to ensure it meets your needs. While helpful, websites often showcase pictures of only the best locations on property or of model units.
• If a security deposit is required, ask what it will cover and the conditions for deductions.
• Ask about maintenance and repair coverage. Get specifics on how maintenance and repair requests are handled and within what timeframe. While for some landlords a simple phone call suffices for a maintenance or repair request, others might require something in writing. Also, some basic maintenance might be included as part of the landlord's responsibility. For example, some provide tenants with light bulb replacements.
• Know your rights as a renter. Check your local and state regulatory agency to determine landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities. Housing codes, which govern apartment rentals, are set by local authority — city, county or state. Refer to the Arizona Residential Tenant and Landlord Act for a detailed list of rights or call 1-800-347-3739 with questions.
• Consider renters insurance. When a tenant's belongings are damaged or stolen, the landlord is very rarely held liable. Renters insurance would cover your losses in the event of fire, burglary or other damage. Pay attention to deductibles and coverage limits when choosing a policy.
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit BBB's News Center at www.arizonabbb.org.
Better Business Bureau has a Yuma office at 350 W. 16th St., Suite 205. Yuma County director Janet Torricellas can be reached at 919-7940 or email@example.com.