Census data analyzed by Harvard’s Joint Center for House Studies and The Associated Press quantify the trend: Since the drop in the housing market, nearly 3 million families have transitioned from property owners to renters, with another 3 million expected by 2015. Thirty-
Connecticut BBB offers several tips to help you avoid problems when renting:
Verify a listing is legitimate - If you are searching on the Internet for a place, be careful it’s not a scam. Home rental scams are extremely prevalent. Con artists take the pictures of a house or condo for sale off the Internet, put them on their websites and advertise on venues such as Craigslist.
Check the intermediary - Check real estate companies at http://www.ct.bbb.org, then, call the company to verify the house or apartment is indeed for rent. You also can check with your local assessor’s office to verify ownership.
Use secure payment method - If you do not live where the rental property is located but still want to rent it, ask if you can place your deposit on a credit card. Your chance of receiving a charge back for the deposit if there is fraud, is good if you file a written dispute in a timely manner. If you write a check to a scammer, you can say good-bye to that money.
Understand all terms of the lease before signing - Have all agreements put in writing, such as what improvements will be made and when. Keep copies of all correspondence. Make sure they give you a copy of the lease. Sometimes the landlord/real estate agent will say they will mail a copy of the agreement to you, and it never comes. Are utilities included or paid separately?
Don’t rent sight unseen - Do a walk-through if at all possible. Take pictures of the rental to be able to verify the conditions before moving in. Know the use and refunds of your security deposit. If you have a pet, make sure you know that it is acceptable to have a dog or cat. Is it in writing?
Don’t forget insurance - Too often people do not carry insurance needed to protect them from losses due to fire, theft or natural disasters.
Finally, once you move in, it is well worth it develop a good relationship with the landlord so that repairs will be made quickly. Remember that you have certain rights to a livable place such as heat, water, electricity and clean, safe surroundings.
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.