Whether you’re renting a home, an apartment, or a room, here’s all you need to know about rental terms, what constitutes a fair lease, and pitfalls to avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is the best time of year to rent an apartment?

    Inventory is highest between May and September, giving renters the widest range of options. However, demand is also higher during these months, meaning advertised reents will be higher and apartment hunters could face stiff competition in hot markets. Between October and April, renters enjoy less choice but also lower rents and less competition.

  • Does renters insurance cover natural disasters?

    Most renters insurance policies will cover at least some natural disasters. It’s common for policies to cover tornadoes and other wind storms, fires (including wildfires), rain (excluding flooding), hail, and snow. Policies don’t usually cover floods and earthquakes, which require additional coverage. Residents of disaster prone areas should consider including loss-of-use coverage, which helps renters cover the cost of finding new housing if their rental becomes uninhabitable.

  • Can I legally withhold rent?

    Generally, to withhold rent a tenant must inform the landlord of conditions that make the unit uninhabitable and give them time to make repairs. If they fail to do so, tenants can go to court to withhold rent through a process called rent escrow, in which the tenant pays rent to a third-party until the landlord fulfills their obligations. Conditions and processes vary by state, so you’ll need to consult local laws before taking such action.

  • Can I rent-to-own a home?

    Yes, as with a vehicle, you can enter an agreement to rent a home and buy it outright at the end of the rental term. There are two types of rent-to-own agreements: lease option and lease purchase. Lease option agreements give the renter the right but not the obligation to purchase, whereas lease purchase agreements obligate the renter to buy the property when the lease is up. Rent-to-own agreements can help you build home equity while saving up for a down payment or improving your credit score to get a better deal on a mortgage.

Key Terms

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