Renter's Tips

Zia Housing for Renters 

Finding the perfect rental home in New Mexico has never been easier.  If you don't find what you're looking today for please check back tomorrow. New rental listings are added frequently. The Zia Housing Rental Housing Request Form goes to area property managers. Landlords may have something that is not listed on Zia Housing coming available soon. Remember to tell them you found them on Zia Housing! 

Renter's Tips 

Application:  Professional property managers will generally require a prospective resident to complete a rental application. It is normal for there to be application fees. Typically, a background check is run including a credit check, checks of national databases for evictions, and criminal records including the national sex offender database. There should be comfort in knowing that your future neighbors had received the same tenant screening prior to their acceptance. Be truthful in the information you provide on the application. False information can, in many instances, be grounds for your application to be denied. Further, providing false information on your application could be grounds for eviction later.

Security Deposits: Security deposits must be reconciled, and balances mailed thirty days from a move out that is noticed in writing. In other words, your landlord must give you a detail of any charges assessed against your deposit and refund the balance remaining within thirty days of your move out. This is their obligation and your right. 

Written Notice: Even if your lease has expired or is expiring you should always provide at least thirty-day written notice of your move out. Check your lease because some leases may require more than 30-days. Most leases allow the landlord to assess charges for re-letting if you fail to give written notice or if you do not fulfil your lease terms. It is good practice to send such notice by certified mail.  Hand delivery with the landlord's representative signing a copy for your records is a good second option. Make sure this notice includes your forwarding address. If not, the landlord may mail the final deposit disposition to last known address. If you don't know where you'll be, leave the address of a relative or trustworthy friend. Some leases require notice be given on the first of the month for the end of that month while other leases allow for any thirty-day time period. Again, read the lease to know the requirements. 

Federal Fair Housing Laws: Fair Housing is the law. You may not be denied housing or be treated differently because of your race, national origin, age, religion, family status, color or ethnic background. Some states may have additional protections. 

Landlords can set reasonable occupancy limits as well as qualifications based on your rental history, credit history and criminal background. There are special provisions for seniors housing. 

The Lease: A lease is a legal contract. Read the lease to understand your obligations as well as the responsibilities of the landlord.  It is our recommendation that a standardized lease form from the State Board of Realtors or local apartment association be used. 

Be careful when leasing a home that will be for sale while you are living in it. In the current markets there are many single-family property owners that would like to rent you a house on a lease while they try and sell the home. Our advice, don't do it unless the reduced rental rate compensates you for the aggravation and time in dealing with real estate agents showing the property at times that may not be convenient to you and your family and you are ready to be asked to move when the property sells. Additionally, many owners try and get tenants to sign leases that obligate the tenant for a period of 6,9, or even 12 months but want to be able to move the tenant out for a new buyer with 30 days' notice. Again, we would advise a renter to stay away from this arrangement.  

Utilities: Understand who will be responsible for the payment of each utility and make sure this information is clearly stated in the lease. If the landlord is paying for critical a utility like gas, water or electric make sure you have a 24-hour contact number in case of disconnection. If the utility is not in your name reporting outages can be difficult.  It is good to check in advance of signing a lease what deposits may be necessary to connect service in your name. These deposits can dramatically increase your moving costs and you do not want to be under a new lease contract and find you are short the funds to make the move. 

Phone Service and Cable:  It is good to make sure the phone lines, cable lines and Internet access lines are in good working order. At least get this assurance in the lease. If not, you could be spending your own money to get these lines operational. 

Maintenance:  Always put your maintenance requests in writing and keep a record. It is inadvisable to deduct maintenance expenses you have paid from the rent, unless this is agreed upon in writing with your landlord. In the case of renting a house, be certain you know if you will be responsible for items such as lawn maintenance and pest control. 

Remember, you are the customer. People on average pay 30% of their income on housing costs.  If your prospective property manager or owner makes you feel like you are not an important customer, you may want to keep looking. A good property manager, in our opinion, is as important as the property you choose to lease.


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