Common Problems You Can Avoid
Signing An "Intent to Lease" With No End Date Written
If you sign an "Intent to Lease", make sure it has an end-date. WRITE ON THE CONTRACT something like: "If this rental is not available by ____ date, this contract is void and the deposit will be returned." Write your initials and make sure the landlord signs it as well.
Renting "sight unseen"
This is when you give money to the landlord before actually seeing the rental in-person. Online scams exist and can be avoided by seeing the INSIDE of the rental IN PERSON. Missoula is a small town and it is highly unlikely that a landlord would leave town without giving the keys to a neighbor or friend to show potential rentals.
Settling For Less
Just because there aren't many rentals available doesn't mean you have to settle!
Some landlords and companies will require that individuals pay two or three times the regular deposit because of lack of rental history or lack of credit. Consider if you are comfortable giving that much money to the company.
Not Knowing What Fees You Are Agreeing To
Many students receive letter from their landlords charging them fees for trash in their yard, the police being called to the house, and late rent. Read your lease carefully. If there is anything you think should be included or excluded, talk to the company. You can negotiate terms before you sign. Just make sure it is in writing!
Repairs & Cleaning Never Done As Promised
Make sure the rental is safe and up to your standard of living. If a landlord promises to repair something, get it in writing! ...with a date expected for the repair!
No Condition of Premises Report Given or Completed
Fill out the Condition of Premises Report (a.k.a move in report) thoroughly. Make sure to note every scratch, dent, hole, etc. When you leave your lease, the landlord may charge you for everything not reported on the Condition of Premises Report.
- Didn't get one? If your landlord did not provide you with a blank report to fill out, it's not a problem. You should still complete one and turn it in along with photos. You can download one online with a simple internet search.
- Landlord filled it out for you? You may encounter a landlord who hands you a completed report that sh/e wants you to sign on the spot. Or, your landlord may include a blurb on your lease stating that the property is generally good condition that you are expected to sign to confirm that you agree with the statement. DO NOT SIGN! In both instances, decline the landlord's request and inform them that you will instead exercise your right to fill one out on your own.