LITTLE ROCK – When deciding where to live, some Arkansans may turn to renting rather than purchasing a house or condominium. Some consumers prematurely sign a lease and find themselves stuck in a long and aggravating situation. But the Attorney General’s office is here to help you be an informed renter to avoid a lot of stress.
“Signing a lease can be overwhelming for first time renters, or even those who are familiar with the renting process,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Renters need to know if they are making a good deal, what questions to ask the landlord and what to look for in a home or apartment.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to those considering rental options:
Read the lease in full before signing and ask questions.
Ask about the utilities including electricity, natural gas, water and sewer. Who is the provider for each service? What is the average monthly cost? Does the landlord cover any of these costs? If the landlord keeps the utilities in its name, what assurance do you have that the landlord will pay the utility bills?
Consider asking the landlord or local law enforcement if there have been any noise complaints filed against the neighbors.
Consider contacting the local police department or campus police to ask about safety of the area.
Look at the condition of the carpet and paint to ensure its quality.
Take pictures of the property, especially carpet, paint, appliances and any other fixtures before moving in. This could protect you if a landlord claims you caused any damages.
Ask the landlord if he or she will be responsible for any and all repairs, including appliance/air conditioning/furnace repair and maintenance, and make sure those responsibilities are mentioned in the lease.
Learn about the lease cancellation policy and ask questions.
If you are a student, consider a nine-month lease for the school term instead of a full 12-month lease.
Clarify the details of the security deposit and the landlord’s policy for its return after the apartment or rental house is vacated.
It is also important to stay up-to-date with local Tenant and Landlord Laws. Fayetteville, Arkansas, joined other university towns across the country, including Salisbury, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Ames, Iowa, in passing an ordinance requiring landlords to confirm, in writing, no more than three unrelated roommates are living together in a single-family home. This ordinance stemmed from homeowners near the University of Arkansas complaining about noise, trash and parking issues when more than three college students live together in a single-family home.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.