11 Common Issues Tenants Face and How to Fix Them
When it comes to renting, landlords often have the upper hand with tenants. Most rental property owners are good people. Some have made too many poor choices in renters, they are now cynical and have a hard time seeing tenants differently. As a result, they may not even follow their own landlord guidelines and make an O.K. rental unit a horrible place to live.
As a tenant, take those sour grapes and turn it into something worth drinking. We’ll start at the top with the hardest issues to fix.
Finding a rental property in the ideal location for you
When you start looking for a place to rent there are certain things you like to keep in mind, how close to work or school is it? Am I close to amenities like a grocery store or gas station? The problem with rentals is they aren’t always close to anything. They may be in a very nice neighborhood but it takes an extra 15 minutes to reach an interstate or loop. They may be in a very rough neighborhood and you don’t necessarily feel safe walking around at night. You’ll need to make a list of the absolute must haves in your rental before starting to look. It will help you weed out properties even before you set-up a showing.
Unfortunately for tenants, the housing market is in a trend of increasing rents. The supply is low and the demand it high. This creates competition for rental units and as a result, landlords can ask more than they may have previously asked for in the past. The other driver for the rental amount is location and type of building.
- Are you looking for a single-family home? You’re going to pay more to have the privacy and peace of mind.
- Are you looking at a unit in a newer building? You’re going to pay more for that new carpet smell. Take a hard look at your budget and what you are willing to give up.
- Do you really need your own yard? If not then a home may not be as important and a duplex or apartment unit would be fine.
If new carpet isn’t a necessity, finding something older will be easier on your checkbook.
High security deposits
In Wisconsin, there are no state laws as to how much of a security deposit a property owner can require. Tenant’s need to decided if they are willing to part with another month’s rent or possibly a year’s rent in advance to live in the property.
Incomplete return of security deposits
There are laws in Wisconsin to regulate what a landlord or property management company can and can’t keep from a security deposit when a tenant moves out.
According to The Wisconsin Way property owners can only keep deposits used for repair or replacement due to:
- Tenant damage, waste or neglect of the premises;
- Nonpayment of rent;
- Non-payment of actual amounts the tenant owes the landlord for utility services provided by the landlord, and;
- Nonpayment of government utility charges or mobile home parking fees.
- There can be a “Nonstandard Rental Provision,” to permit the landlord to withhold the security deposit for other reasons than those listed but it can’t be for any costs related to “normal wear and tear.”
Repair requests go unanswered
The good news is you’ve found a place to call home. Unfortunately, there are some repairs needed and you’re not sure what to do about it. There is a process you can go through. First, call and ask. If the repair was not something either of you agreed to or brought up before you moved into the unit, you’ll need to ask the landlord to fix it. If the first call doesn’t work, ask for a meeting and get the repair request and specific time frame in writing. Worse case, you can bring your paperwork to the housing department to force the landlord to complete the repair.
Now that we’ve covered the issues that cause the most amount of stress and anxiety for tenants, let’s tackle some of the personal preference issues.
Bland color scheme—If it’s not white, it’s beige, what can you do?
You can always ask if you can paint. Some landlords will let you, but you may also have to paint it back before you move out. If painting and re-painting is out of the question, start by adding colorful accessories. Personalize your space with items you like. Pictures, pillows, blankets, baskets filled with colorful items will make the space feel more like you and less like a blank slate.
Small, uninspiring kitchens—add some helpful, colorful, items.
Rental units don’t always have more than a galley kitchen. Small and functional but not necessarily easy to use. Invest in economical items like over and under the counter storage units for cooking utensils. Utilize all the space you can above the cabinets by adding your own storage containers. Again you can add pictures, towels, and containers in bright colors to liven up the space.
Tiny, uninviting bathrooms—create your own space
Bathrooms in rental units can be small and crowded. The only way two people can fit into some of the spaces is if one is standing in the shower. Make the space look larger by adding a couple mirrors to create the illusion of space. They will also reflect more light in the space keeping the gloomy feeling away. Brightly colored and patterned towels, shower curtain and bath soap can have your tiny bathroom feeling like a spa.
Lack of storage inside—space saving organizers can make your life easier
There is no lack of different types of containers and organization units on the market to help make your life easier. Investing a couple dollars into free standing wardrobes, book shelves, shoe and coat racks can have all of your items neatly tucked away. This gives you your closet space for outside clothes, appliance storage and hard to hide items. There are always hidden places under beds, couches and chairs to store bins if you need to. You can also buy furniture with extra storage options like hallow trunks that can be a coffee table and storage. Ottomans, and tables with lots of space and drawers can eliminate items that just get strewn around like blankets and magazines.
Lack of yard outside—unless you have children or a pet, consider the necessity of more than a place to put a small grill or a couple of chairs.
Not all rental properties, like apartment buildings, have yards. You may share a common courtyard or green space but is it necessary. If this a problem, you can walk your dog down the street to take care of their bathroom needs. A park within driving distance can be a nice stop to bring your kids a couple times a week when the weather is nice. When it’s not they might be able to play in the common area.
If you are working with a property management company and have a concern about a rental property you are considering renting or currently renting, be sure to speak up. Property managers don’t know there is a problem if you don’t bring it to their attention. Most management companies can address any concern you have. Day Property Management www.daypropertymanagement.com is available 24/7 for major issues by calling 920-968-0626. Tenants can also visit their renters’ portal and send a message to the management company.