By Jennifer Riner of Zillow
Renters requiring more privacy and space should consider renting out single-family properties instead of high-rise apartments or townhomes. Aside from enhanced seclusion and square footage, private owners often allow their tenants to paint, modernize and customize their living spaces, as long as modifications don’t compromise home values.
Considering renting a single-family property? First follow these five steps.
1. Set a Budget
Typically, single-family homes cost more than apartments or townhomes due to size differences and the inclusion of private outdoor spaces. Lessees must factor these enhanced accommodations into their budgets. Renters who can afford high-end amenities in small apartments might end up paying more for large, dated homes. While single-family properties are costly, it’s easier to negotiate with landlords who both own and manage tenancies. Single-family homeowners make final decisions. Communicating directly with homeowners is easier than going through multiple layers of supervision at large property management (PM) firms. Rent negotiations at multi-unit apartment complexes are not only lengthy, but PMs often enforce stricter pricing policies because of comparable rentals on the market. Due to the limited number of similar properties, single-family homeowners don’t have the same pricing strategies as apartment owners.
2. Research Availability
Similarly to apartments for rent, tenants looking for private properties must adequately research prospective neighborhoods, school districts, commute times and property details before submitting lease applications. Private homes for rent are scarcer because renters opt for long-term leases, especially when they have close relationships with owners. Also, apartment complexes are designated rental units, usually relisted each year. Homeowners might occupy their single-family homes for decades before they decide to rent them out. Availability varies, so don’t become frustrated with sluggish search processes.
3. Submit an Application
Landlords require pay stubs, bank statements, credit reports and references to supplement rental applications. Gather these documents prior to applying for leases to appear prepared and experienced with the rental process. Single-family homeowners seek trustworthy candidates to take care of their homes, and being one step ahead in the process helps prove willingness to cooperate. Further, act promptly to expedite the authorization process for both parties’ advantage.
4. Conduct a Walk Through
Document damages prior to moving into single-family residences. With more space than typical apartments, minor holes and scuffs in full-size homes may go unnoticed, so it’s best to be thorough. Check water temperature controls to make sure hot water is working throughout the home. Make sure to note any water damage in the property, especially stains on walls or moldy odors. Tenants can request immediate repairs prior to move-in and evade responsibility for damages that occurred prior to their contracts.
5. Purchase Renter’s Insurance
To best protect personal belongings, lessees should invest in adequate insurance coverage. Aside from private possessions, renter’s insurance sometimes covers liability. Tenant liability is an essential element of sufficient insurance coverage; otherwise leaseholders are financially responsible for guests’ medical bills. Homeowners (or their insurance) are obligated to cover injuries caused by property faults, such as foundation failure or roof collapse.
Private rental properties are especially good alternatives for large families or couples looking to settle down. Renters who allocate a portion of their monthly savings toward future down payments can one day purchase their own homes and potentially rent them out for profit.
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Last weekend, I traveled with a group of five friends to Las Vegas for a weekend of kayaking and running.
I know, I know, not the typical girls’ trip to Vegas. But I suppose we’re not your typical girls. We did manage to pull an all-nighter and do the “walk of shame” the next morning, but that all-nighter involved a midnight half marathon and the walk of shame was us in our gross running gear.
The trip was not cheap, with flights and hotel rooms, but we found a great price for a three bedroom suite. Of course, while we each paid for our own airfare and typically were able to have the checks from meals split up, the hotel was all put on one credit card and then divided up.
When Things Go Right
Because I was one of the first to arrive, I put the charge on my credit card. Ouch! But thankfully, I have great friends who immediately paid up when we got the bill. No questions asked, everyone just wrote a check or sent me the money via PayPal. During the one meal where we weren’t able to split the bill, everyone just tossed in cash without question. We actually ended up with way more money on the table than needed, even with a 20% tip.
I’m lucky that I have a group of friends who so willingly pay their portion. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with everyone, and friends and money can be a tough combination.
Friends and Money: When Things Go Wrong
I’m sure we’ve all been out to dinner where, when it’s time to pay the bill, everyone throws in their money, including tip, and the end amount is still low. As typically happens, everyone throws in more money, so the majority of the group has overpaid, while someone (who you can’t always pick out) has clearly not paid their portion.
I’ve also heard people argue when splitting hotel rooms. Let’s say that there are three of us sharing a hotel room with two double beds. That means two people share the bed. At the end of the trip, how is the bill divided up? In my opinion, it’s divided by three. Others would argue that it should be divided so that the person who had their own bed pays half while the other two pay one quarter each. After all, they used less sleeping space. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous – you’ve still had to split the bathroom by three and the living space by three. (Of course, if I’m sharing with people who I know have much tighter finances, I’ll argue to pay half. It’s the nice thing to do.)
And sometimes, these complications as to who pays what can cause problems between friends. That’s part of the reason so many people argue that friends and finances shouldn’t mix. I disagree – had we not mixed finances and friendships, I would have missed out on an amazing trip this past weekend. But you just have to be aware of who you are mixing your money with.
Do you mix friendships and finances?
Photo Credit: Stock Images
If someone asked, I wouldn’t say that I love to travel, but as I get older, I’m finding myself doing more and more traveling. This weekend was a girls trip to Vegas. (For kayaking and running, not for drinking and gambling. ) One of the joys of being single, I suppose. I can just jet off to places unknown for a long weekend without too much trouble.
Well, except for paying for that travel, of course.
There are lots of easy ways to save money on travel without having to make huge sacrifices.
Easy Ways to Save on Travel
Now, if you do a search, you will probably find some people who cut travel costs by perfectly balancing rewards and loyalty points and buying at the exact perfect time and keeping a flexible travel schedule.
If you have the time for that, it’s an awesome way to save money. But I am not one of those people who has the time or the patience to go through all of those steps. I like simple and easy. I like to save money on travel for dates that I want to travel. I don’t often have hugely flexible travel dates. And I am pretty picky about my flights. Sure, I could save money by flying at odd times, but I don’t want to. Depending on how far I’m flying, I also like to fly non-stop. Of course, that’s not always a reasonable option, but it’s something I definitely will spend the money on if it’s reasonably priced.
Saving on Flights
For domestic travel, my first stop when buying plane tickets is always Southwest Airlines. Why? Because of their change policies. If I buy a ticket and later I discover that it’s now on sale for even a few dollars cheaper, I can rebook for free and get that money back in credit for a future flight. If I have to change the dates of my flights or cancel the tickets all together, I can do that with no penalty. The money just turns into credit for a future flight. Of course, the credits have to be used within a certain time (you have to buy a new ticket within a year of the first purchase), but that’s never been a problem for me. It’s nice to have the flexibility.
Southwest also has a miles program that is actually easy to use! And you can earn miles by shopping through a portal on their site. I don’t use this option – I choose to use Ebates as my shopping portal, but many of my friends do it and have racked up a number of free flights. There is also a rewards credit card, but it has an annual fee, so it’s not worth it to me.
Saving on Hotels
For hotel stays, I hunt around for the best prices, but I also make a point of always signing up for the rewards program with the hotel chain. I don’t necessarily stay brand loyal when I travel (I’m also looking at price and location), but I’ve found that those hotel rewards points do start to add up. I also have a AAA card and make sure to check for AAA discounts.
As I have discussed before, I use a Disney Rewards credit card, so that helps me save money towards trips to Disney World, a place I like to visit, especially when holiday decorations are out. Looking into rewards cards can be worth it if they don’t have an annual fee (or if the rewards you receive outweigh the fee). There are a number of airline and hotel-related rewards cards. It’s just about what finding works best for you.
So those are the easy ways that I save money on travel. Nothing too difficult, but it’s definitely led to more of my money staying in my wallet.
How do you save on travel?