Tips for renters and landlords
house savvy tj rubin
TJ Rubin

Protect yourself as a renter
Your landlord or property management company can make or break your rental experience, so look online for negative reviews. Slow responses to maintenance calls and deceptive leasing practices, like advertisements for amenities that don't exist, are the most common complaints.

A first-time landlord is a slightly higher risk. Ask a lot of questions, including where he lives and who will respond to maintenance requests. Before you sign a lease, test everything -- appliances, windows, light switches. If anything needs to be fixed, make sure that's included in the rental agreement. And don't sign anything that holds you responsible for the building's exterior.
-- TJ Rubin, managing broker at Fulton Grace Realty, Chicago

Prosper as a landlord
Think like your worst-case tenant -- the one who'll never pay you a dime and never leave. These folks will take advantage of strict laws on when and why a tenant can be evicted. You need to know those laws just as well as they do.

Write your tenant lease to safeguard your rights, like setting community standards for noise, trash and other areas of possible neighborly nuisance. To protect yourself financially, put away a little money from the rent to cover potential legal costs.
-- Casey Edwards, long-time landlord and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being a Smart Landlord

Related: Readers weigh in with their Best Money Advice


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  @Money - Last updated March 04 2014 03:21 PM ET
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