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Renters

RENTERS GUIDE

SUMMER (Seasonal Rentals)
Litchfield and Fairfield Counties are very popular areas for seasonal rentals.
In most instances, the landlords are renting out their own homes, rather than what would be considered true rental properties. These homes are generally furnished nicely and may have personal possessions in view, making it a more “homey” experience rather than a hotel/motel feel.
You should expect to pay the summer -seasonal rental amount in full prior to taking possession of the subject premises. This is usually done in two payments: the first half on signing of the lease and the second half on June 1st. The first half is generally non refundable.
Utility, lawn & pool costs may or may not be included in the rental payment.

YEARLY
Rental payments are normally paid on a monthly basis unless otherwise negotiated. You should expect to complete an application form and provide a credit report/FICO Score. Pay check stubs, bank statements or 1-2 years previous tax returns may also be requested.
Rent and security are due, usually in the form of certified bank checks for the initial payment and payment by personal check from that time forward.
If you do not meet the financial requirements of the landlord, you may be required to obtain a lease guarantor. The guarantor will be required to be financially able and qualified to pay your rent as well as comfortably carry his or her financial responsibilities in case you default on the lease. Accordingly, the landlord may expect that the guarantor provide a credit report also. You should expect to provide a credit report for each person over the age of 18.
In this area, the tenant should expect to pay for all utility, lawn and snow removal costs.
Some landlords are more flexible than others when it comes to credit. You can also provide your own credit report available from an online service such as www.freecreditreport.com.

SECURITY DEPOSIT
CT Law outlines the rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant regarding the collection, holding and return of rent security deposits. A good reference site for detailed information would be – www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/law/landlord.htm.

INSURANCE
The Landlord is not responsible for the insurance of your personal belongings. Their insurance only covers the building and the fittings. You will need to obtain a renters insurance policy to cover your liabilities and belongings prior to taking possession of the premises. You should expect the landlord to require public liability and fire, legal liability. Contact your insurance agent in this regard.
RENT WITH OPTION TO BUY
Renting with option to purchase in this area normally consists of a standard lease with a purchase option added in the lease or a separate agreement. This means that not only the purchase price is established, but the tenant is expected to carry out whatever building inspection testing they would opted to perform under a normal purchase agreement.
Including the option can benefit both the landlord and the tenant. Tenants can secure the right to a house that they like and get extra time to save for a down payment. Landlords can increase their odds of selling a house and may be able to charge a higher rent. Negotiations can include a non-refundable nonpayment and/or part of the rental payments going towards a down payment.


General information about the rental application process

Renting a home may seem like a simple process, but with so much at stake, it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect. Before looking at houses for rent in Fairfield County or Litchfield County, CT, see this step-by-step guide to help you get started.

  1. Know your budget

    The first step is to determine a budget you’re comfortable with. In general, it’s advisable to set aside no more than 30 percent of your gross income for rent. This will leave you with enough money for your other expenses, and to build an emergency fund. You also need to set aside cash for the deposit and moving expenses.

    In some rentals, particularly in multifamily properties, the cost of utilities and maintenance may be included in the rent, but in others, especially when you rent a single-family home, you may have to pay for these costs out of your own pocket.

    Depending on the property, you may also need to pay a monthly community or association fee, which may cover part or all of your utilities and maintenance costs. These factors can directly affect your budget, so you need to be clear about these when deciding where to rent.

  2. Review your credit score

    In screening potential tenants, one of the things landlords look at is the applicants’ credit score. A score of at least 620 can help you land your choice of rental property without much difficulty. You may still find a rental with a lower credit rating, but landlords may view you as a greater financial risk, and might want to offset that risk by asking for a higher deposit or requiring a guarantor.

    If your credit score falls below 620, consider improving it first before shopping for a rental. Get a copy of your credit report, identify the items that may be pulling your score down, and find ways to improve on these.

  3. Look into various locations

    Familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods in the area and what you can expect from each. Consider your lifestyle, as well as the features and amenities that are most important to you.

    Do you want to live in the downtown area, close to offices, shops, restaurants, and other conveniences? If you have kids, perhaps you’d prefer a neighborhood with a good school nearby, as well as parks and open spaces where your children can play. Or, perhaps, you want to have easy access to the activities you enjoy. For example, if you love fishing or outdoor activities, you might look into waterfront neighborhoods, or one with trails and nature parks nearby.

    Keep in mind that location can factor greatly in rental fees. Homes in some areas may be more expensive than in others. To stay within your budget, you may have to give up some of your desired home features in favor of the others. For example, you might find a neighborhood that’s ideal for raising kids, but will require a longer drive to work. Weigh these factors in making your decision.

  4. Know the features you want in a home

    Start with the property type and the things you simply can’t do without. Are you looking for a single-family home, or do you prefer a condo or townhouse? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you require plenty of storage space or a garage, or perhaps a laundry area? If you have a pet, you’d want to make sure they’re allowed in the property.

    Next, determine the creature comforts and extras that you’d be happy to have but are not essential in your day to day life. They can be as simple as a patio or porch, or as extravagant as a swimming pool or spa. Prioritize your preferences and use this to guide you in making decisions.

  5. Visit properties

    Based on your choice of location and home features, narrow down your options and visit each potential property. Be on the lookout for repair issues. Get a feel of how it is to live in each home, and determine if it’s a good fit for you. Walk around the neighborhood as well, and if you can, ask some neighbors about what it’s like to live in the area.

  6. Make sure to personally meet the owner or the landlord, and be prepared to ask the right questions, including:

    • What is the maintenance policy? Are you responsible for all or some repairs, or will the landlord take care of everything?
    • How much upfront money is required, and how is it broken down?
    • Can you renew the lease at the end of the term?
    • Is there a guest policy and a pet policy?
    • Is subletting allowed? Can you bring in a roommate or someone to share the rental with?
    • How is rent billed, when can you expect the billing, and what is the payment method?
    • Is there an HOA fee, and who is responsible for paying the fee?
    • What kind of changes, if any, are you allowed to make on the property?
    • What’s the best way to contact the landlord?

  7. Sign the lease

    Go over the lease agreement carefully, and look up the landlord-tenant law in CT to make sure nothing is amiss. Consult an attorney if you need to. Keep in mind that once you sign the lease, you’re bound to keep your end of the agreement as much as the landlord.

    Once the lease is signed, it’s time to make the necessary preparations to move into your new home.

Looking for a home to rent in Connecticut’s Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties?

We at Fazzone & Harrison Realty LLC will be more than happy to help. With over 45 years of collective experience, we can help you find the property that’s perfect for you. Call us today at 860.354.0479 or drop us a note here.


Knowing Your Rights as a Tenant in Connecticut

If you’re thinking of renting a house or an apartment in Connecticut, it pays to know your rights as a tenant, and the rights of your landlord as it affects you. For instance, Connecticut’s Fair Housing Law prohibits landlords from rejecting tenants based on their age, ancestry, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, and lawful source of income. A tenant can also terminate a lease agreement if they’re a victim of domestic abuse, or if the landlord fails to provide required services. You’ll also want to know the kind of information your landlord is legally bound to disclose to you as a tenant. Bookmark this article for future reference.