Check the fine print
“Make sure that you are signing something that you fully understand,” says Croegaert. “Pay close attention to additional riders to the standard Chicago lease and read through all condo documents if applicable. If a landlord states that certain utilities are included in the rent, make sure that is noted in the lease to avoid any discrepancies that may arise after move in.” He also advises renters to check what maintenance you will be responsible for. “Is it your responsibility to replace [things like] furnace filters and, if so, how often? Be sure to factor these costs into your monthly rent.”
Cover your ass(ets)
“Be sure to get renters’ insurance as well to cover for any potential losses or liability in your new apartment,” advises Rios, adding that these days, most managed buildings actually require all tenants to have it. If you’re a car owner, you should be able to add renters’ insurance on through your auto insurance policy.
Never, ever pay cash. EVER.
Think about it: it’s way too easy for someone to rent an Airbnb, create a listing on Craigslist and pretend to be a landlord in a ploy to get cash before disappearing into thin air. In fact, it’s happened... many times. If a landlord demands cash, run. If you absolutely must put down a deposit immediately and don’t have your checkbook handy, find the nearest Currency Exchange or Post Office and get a money order, making sure to retain the stub. Also, this should go without saying: don’t ever send anyone money via Western Union, no matter how legitimate their story seems... particularly if their name is Birmingham Jack, Esq.
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Lisa Chatroop, Esq. will totally rent you a sweet apartment, but only if you wire her your $1M inheritance/UK lottery winnings via Western Union. Read more on DailyUrbanista or say hi via Twitter: @Chicagoista.