Posted April 13, 2018

6 tips for dealing with your landlord and that rental apartment life

Friends, the thing about renting an apartment is you gotta deal with someone new, and we’re not talking about a new pizza delivery dude. We’re talking about landlords. And nothing says #adulting like forking over rent so you have a place to live. It’s that time of year when lots of you are making plans to move into your own place, or deciding to leave one apartment for another. Either way, we’ve got some amazing Pinterest boards for how to maximize twinkle light usage in your space. K, not really. What we do have are six tips to help you deal with your landlord and navigate living on your own.

An Owl who has created its nest in a Philadelphia row home.

Make sure your lease makes 100 percent sense.
There’s no shame in asking a lot of questions about your lease, especially if it’s your first time living on your own. It’s a whole other story if you are seriously confused by your lease and some parts sound literally crazy. Purposefully confusing leases are illegal (ILLEGAL!) in Philadelphia. Your landlord should provide a lease that is relatively easy to read and understand, even for a first-time renter.

Take pictures before moving in and after you move out.
This is important. A lot of landlords will jump on any opportunity to keep your security deposit. Take pictures before you move in and after you move out to make sure that your landlord remembers that the scratch on the wall was definitely there before you moved in. To be safe, you should also provide a written record of any damage before moving in and after moving out to ensure you get your precious security deposit back.

Look into renters insurance.
You are responsible for all of your belongings, not your landlord. So, if something bad happens like a break-in or a fire, you will have to replace lost items yourself. Renters insurance, however, can protect you and cover the cost of your stolen or damaged stuff. On a lighter note, this insurance is usually very affordable.

Know your rights.
Philadelphia has your back on this one. Like at Temple, discrimination will not be tolerated when renting within Philadelphia city limits. It is illegal to treat people differently because of their gender, mental or physical ability, marital status, race, religion, sexual orientation, or because they have children or receive government financial aid. In addition, your landlord must accommodate you if you have a disability, even if it requires making an exception to the rules.

If something is broke, don’t fix it.
Regardless of what a lease says, landlords must maintain their properties. Your landlord is responsible for fixing things and repairing damage, not you. This includes heating and cooling systems, as well as anything that could cause a health risk to you and your roommates.

You can’t get kicked out overnight.  
If you’re a day late on rent (try not to be late …), your landlord does not have the right to kick you out, or evict you. If that happens, call the police. Only a Landlord Tenant Officer can evict you and there must be a court hearing. Your landlord also cannot turn off any of your utilities for being late on rent without the same legal process and notice.

And remember, don’t stress out. Temple is still here to help you. Our Off-Campus Housing Office has resources, including an extremely comprehensive and helpful guide to renting in Philadelphia.

If you’re anxious about finding a roommate, check out this Temple-run Facebook page that helps students find peers to live with.

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-Hansen Bursic