Renter Tips

The number of Americans who consider renting as their most affordable option now and in the future is on the rise. It is not just younger generations either. Americans from all generations are currently choosing to rent instead of buy. Renting is the best option for many people. But is it the most affordable option for you?

It can be daunting deciding where to rent and finding an acceptable balance between affordability, neighborhood safety, and your work commute. It is important to know exactly what is within your monthly budget, research the safety of any new rental property, and explore all commuting options. We are here to help with some of our best industry advice for Coloradans considering renting.

Know what you can afford

The average person spends 50 percent of their net income on housing. Before weighing any new rental option, it is important to know exactly what you can afford. The average Colorado household should spend a maximum of 30 percent of its gross income on housing costs (in this case, rent). For example, if you make $3,500.00 per month, you should spend no more than $1,050.00 on rent or housing expenses. If your net household income is $5,000.00, your rent or housing expenses should be no higher than $1,500.00.

(Source: Housing Affordability in Colorado)

The good news is that there are plenty of affordable options throughout Colorado. Did you know that there are over 29,000 rental units in the Denver Metro area that cost $1,000 or less to rent?

Stay within your budget

This may seem fairly obvious. However, it is easy to get yourself into an unnecessarily tight and stressful financial position by picking a rental or purchase option that is beyond what you can afford and stretching yourself too thin. Once you know your 30 percent maximum rental budget, it’s important to stick to it!

Finding an attractive rental property for you

The best rental option is going to be specific to each person and each situation. Fortunately, there are a lot of different options out there, but it is important to do your research! Once you know what you can afford, make a list of what are the most important and non-negotiable qualities for your rental property.

  • Is safety most important?
  • What about distance from work?
  • Would you consider public transport options to commute to work?
  • What kind of property would you prefer – a house, townhouse, or an apartment? Are certain amenities more important than others?

Do your research and make a list of your rental property “needs” and “wants.” The next step is finding the properties that fit your requirements.

In today’s increasingly digital world, more and more Coloradans are turning to online platforms to find their new rental property. However, there are plenty of other reliable means of finding suitable rental properties for you – such as printed rental guides and free locator services. You can also use the old-fashioned methods of driving by, walking by, word of mouth, and social media.

Apartment Search Checklist

Questions you should ask

Before scheduling a visit to a potential rental property, call first with some prepared questions for the rental housing provider to determine if this property is suitable for you.

Visiting the rental property

When visiting the rental property, it is important to watch out for specific features and qualities. Is the rental housing provider, agent, and/or owner professional? Are they friendly and accommodating? Are they available for maintenance or emergencies 24 hours a day or is there a maintenance service that is provided? Is the property clean? Is it furnished? Is pest control available? Is parking included? Which safety features are provided?

Understanding the application process and signing a lease

Congratulations! You’ve found the rental option that’s right for you! But, before you sign a contract or put any money down, it is important for you to understand what you are committing to and how the application process works.

Ask to review a blank lease, addenda, and all community policies. Read through them carefully! The application could also potentially include asking for a credit record, a criminal background check, income requirements or bank statements, and past rental history.

Be sure to get a firm date for when the property will be available to move in. Read the contract carefully before you sign! It is crucial for you to understand what you are signing.

Make sure that the rights and responsibilities of both you and the rental housing provider/agent/owner are specific and clear. Ask for and file copies of everything that you sign.

The lease agreement should include:

  • the address of the rental property
  • the term/length of the lease agreement
  • the monthly rental cost and due date
  • the rental housing provider/agent/owner’s name and address

Anti-Crime Tips – Keeping your rental property safe

Before moving into your new rental property, it is important to ensure the property is safe. Here are a few tips:

  • Ensure that all doors and windows shut and lock properly.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and never leave valuable items in your car.
  • Find out if there is a Neighborhood Watch.
  • Check with the local police department for information and statistics on crime in the area.

Understanding that some repairs are not your rental housing provider’s responsibility

When you pay your security deposit, be sure to ask what is considered “normal wear and tear” on the rental property. It is critical to know the difference between home repairs that fall under the rental housing provider/agent/owner’s responsibility, and home repairs that are your responsibility to fix as the tenant. Read your lease. Here are some common examples of damage for which a tenant is financially responsible:

Excessive carpet stains or scratches on the floor

Wall damage beyond “normal wear and tear.”

Broken appliances that have been misused by the tenant.

Drains that have clogged during tenant’s use. Some drains can easily clog due to defective plumbing and are therefore unavoidable. However, if the drain is clogged because of tenant’s misuse (i.e. hair or toilet paper), then that clog is the tenant’s responsibility to sort out.

Accidental water damage caused by the tenant. For example, when a bathtub or toilet overflows or the tenant uses the wrong soap in the dishwasher or the washing machine.

Lack of maintenance. If a furnace isn’t working properly because the tenant didn’t change the filters often enough.

Any locks or windows that were broken.

Pet damages. Even if the tenant pays a pet fee, they are still responsible for pet damages.

(Source: Home Repairs That Are Not a Rental Housing Provider’s Job)

Understanding the eviction process

Lastly, as a tenant, it is your responsibility to know the grounds for eviction and understand how this process takes place. Hopefully, you never have to use these.

Colorado state law identifies grounds for legal cause of eviction as the tenant failing to make rent payments, violating the lease agreement, or committing a serious or violent act. If eviction occurs for any one of these reasons, the lease agreement or your right to possession can be terminated by the rental housing provider/agent/owner.

You will be served a demand by the rental housing provider/agent/owner and you, as the tenant, are given three full days to respond to this demand, which expires at midnight three full days after the service date.

If the demand is not met, you will be contacted with a court date and the eviction will proceed in court. If you feel that you have grounds to dispute the eviction, you can file an Answer with the court and a hearing date will be set.

If judgment is in favor of the rental housing provider/agent/owner and Judgment for Possession is granted to them, they have the right to proceed with a Writ of Restitution, which will notify you with a set date to be completely moved out as authorized by the court. The Sheriff also receives the Writ of Restitution and this physical move out date.

If you are unsure how to complete this or have any questions, be sure to ask the local Sheriff when they call to schedule the move-out date. Different time periods may apply to various types of housing.

(Source: Eviction Procedures)

Eviction Process