Tips For Renting A Home Off Post When You PCS
So… you have been driving all day, maybe even for several days, and you are sick and tired of being in the car, staying in hotels… But you don’t want to live on post/base so you have made the decision to rent from a civilian company and/or landlord. Totally fair, many military families choose this route, in fact we did several times. However, I need to be honest with you for a minute… there are a few things you need to keep in mind when renting from a civilian company and/or landlord. I don’t want to scare or overwhelm you, but keep these tips in the back of your mind when you choose to rent off post/base.
Where To Find A Home:
What To Do When You Find A Home:
Do a walk through! Look carefully around the home to see if there is any damage. You do not want to get stuck paying for things i.e. damage you did not cause. Make sure you take photos of what the property looked like when you moved in, and note everything on the move in sheet. And I do mean everything!
Look Over The Lease:
Make sure you look over the lease with a fine tooth comb. You need to make sure you fully understand what you’re getting into. If there is something you do not understand, ASK! If the landlord doesn’t want to explain it to you… RED FLAG! Do not sign on the dotted line until you completely understand the terms on the lease 100%. If there is any chance whatsoever that you might be moving again before the end of the lease, pay special attention to early termination terms. When renting near a post/base, most landlords will have something in their lease regarding early termination for military requirements.
Get It In Writing!
You do not want to be stuck in a situation at the end of your lease where it’s a ‘he said she said’ situation. If there is something you both agree on, but it’s not in the lease get it in writing and get it notarized. For example: if your landlord is going to be responsible for the trash and recycle costs every month, and this is something you both agree on, but is not listed in the terms of the lease. Type something up, go to the bank with the landlord and have it notarized.
Believe it or not you do have rights. So when it comes to security deposits, you need to make sure you fully understand the terms regarding what your deposit will and will not be used for. I have always asked for this to be in writing. I want my entire security deposit back if the property is returned in the exact condition I received it in, and so should you! Thanks to my habit of taking tons of photos and notes (sometimes I even video things) I have a solid track record of getting back my deposit.
Repairs Will Need To Happen:
Yes, I know it’s a HUGE bummer but odds are when you are living in the home it will need repairs from time to time. I wish homes never had any issues but things happen as we all know. As a tenant you need to know your rights when it comes to repairs too: meaning if it states in your contract that the landlord is to fix all issues with the home, within a specific amount of time, then they have to do so. In many states you can actually hold off paying rent until the repairs are completed. (But, please do your research before you do this as laws vary from state to state.)
Communication Is Key:
Make sure you are communicating with your landlord. If there is a problem let the landlord know. Its like the old saying, ‘no news is good news’. So, if there is something wrong… even if you think it’s small, let the landlord know.
Oh My Goodness… no matter what anyone tells you, please purchase renters insurance. It’s not that much and it can save you from so many headaches. It can cover your items in a fire, flood, theft, etc., and typically isn’t that expensive for a $50K policy. Coverage lower than $50K will of course be even cheaper. (Renters policies may vary.)
Make sure you ask the landlord if they changed the locks from the last tenants. You need to feel safe, honestly I always asked if we could add a chain to the door and none of our past landlords had ever said no. Also, I asked for copies of the receipts showing the locks were in fact changed. Not that I didn’t believe them, but safety first… ALWAYS!
When it is time for you to leave the property, makes sure you give the landlord 30 days notice. It’s almost like a job, they will need to find a new tenant just like an employer needs to find a new employee to replace you. If you cannot give them 30 days due to your orders, show them your orders, and they will understand. If you are anything like me you will want that security deposit back, so try and stay on good terms with them through the entire process. You may even want to use them as a reference for your next landlord.
No matter what you choose… just remember to be smart when deciding where you are going to live. Do your research, PCSing is hard and you don’t want or need any added stress.