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Rental Swaps

Some vacationers find a rental swap to be an ideal situation when they are traveling. Homeowners, especially in desired locations, may find there is a great deal of interest from others who would like to rent their home for a short period of time. Typically this is about one to three weeks although it may be longer or shorter in some cases. A rental swap is essentially where a homeowner in one location offers the use of their home to another homeowner in exchange for use of the other homeowners home. Ideally these swaps will take place concurrently but in some situations swaps are organized at different times of the year.

A Rental Swap Saves You Money

For many a rental swap is worth considering because it can result in a tremendous financial savings. Lodging often accounts for a large portion of a vacationers travel expenses. By eliminating these costs the vacationers may find they are able to add additional aspects to their vacation. For example, by eliminating lodging costs, a vacationer may have money left over in the travel budget to see a few plays, eat dinner at extravagant restaurants or purchase tickets to sporting events.

A rental swap, however, does not always automatically translate to a financial savings. Consider the cost of staying in a hotel within walking distance to major attractions as opposed to participating in a rental swap 10-20 miles away from most major attractions. In the case of the rental swap, the vacationers will most likely have to rent a car during their stay but might not have to do so when staying in a hotel. The need for a car, whether or not the kitchen in a rental swap will be utilized to cook meals and other factors should be considered in determining whether a rental swap or hotel stay is more financially logical.

A Rental Swap is More Comfortable than a Hotel

In most cases a rental swap usually results in a more comfortable stay than a visit to a hotel. Of course there will always be situations in which the quality and even the size of the hotel may be superior to the conditions of the rental shop but for the most part, vacationers usually feel more comfortable in a rental swap situation. Staying in a home typically provides the vacationers with more privacy as well as the ability to spread out a little more. This can be very beneficial for keeping the peace especially for large families who may quickly feel overcrowded in a hotel situation.

There are Risks to a Rental Swap

While a rental swap may certainly seem appealing, there are some inherent risks to this type of lodging situation. First of all the possibility of the rental property not being exactly as described is a very real risk. Homeowners may exaggerate the appeal of their property either intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless of the intent of the homeowner, the vacationers may still find themselves in a situation where they are disappointed with the accommodations. This may be because the house is not as large or well-appointed as described or because the house is older and less well maintained than depicted.

Another risk to a rental shop is the possibility of the other homeowner not noting the correct dates. Although this is also a possibility with a hotel, it can be more troubling when the vacationers was counting on the rental swap for their accommodations during the stay. While a hotel might make every effort to accommodate the hotel guests when there is a mistake, homeowners in a rental swap may not have the available resources to find an alternate place for the vacationers to stay.

One final risk which exists in a rental swap, is potential damage to your own property when you allow others to use the property. Homeowners can work to minimize the trouble in these situations by screening those who they are considering for a rental swap carefully. Additionally, homeowners can take security measures by alerting the police as well as neighbors that a stranger will be staying in the home. This will help everyone to be more vigilant and aware of the potential for problems.

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Do Not Let the Furnishings Fool You

Renters who are viewing apartment complexes are often led to furnished models which have been tastefully decorated. Although the furnishings in these model apartments are usually very aesthetically appealing they also usually serve another purpose as well. This other purpose is to make the room appear larger than it is. There are decorator and furnishing techniques which can make a room in an apartment appear considerably larger than it really is. The size of the bed, the amount of furniture and the layout of the furniture are all items which should be carefully considered when viewing model apartments. This article will cover these three items and will provide useful information for renters who are trying to evaluate furnished apartments.

The Size of the Bed

Determining the size of the bed in a model apartment is important for the purposes of evaluating the apartment. If you are unsure of the size of the bed used in the model, ask the leasing agent for clarification. This is important because if the bed used in the model is a full size bed and your own bed is a king size bed, it will be difficult to make assumptions about the size of the bedroom. The differences in a full size bed and a queen size bed may not be as noticeable but renters should be aware a queen bed will result in less free space in the room. If the bed used in the model is not the same size as your own bed, take measurements to determine how well your own bed will fit in the room.

Is There Enough Furniture?

When viewing a furnished, model important it is important to note whether or not there is enough furniture in the room. For example there may be a kitchen table and only two chairs instead of four. This may make the room appear larger to those who are viewing the apartment but they are likely going to be disappointed when they move in.

Consider the furniture in other rooms as well. For example a bedroom which only has a bed and a nightstand will be decidedly less crowded than a bedroom which has a bed, two night stands and a dresser. Your furniture may not be exactly the same size as the model furniture but there should be comparable items in each room.

Does the Layout Make Sense?

Renters should also carefully consider the layout of the furniture when visiting a furnished apartment. An apartment may feature all of the pieces of furniture the renter expects to see in the room but may position these pieces of furniture in a way that is not logical. Consider the family room as an example. There may be a couch, an entertainment center, a television set, a coffee table and two end tables but if these items are positioned strangely it can be deceiving. Most renters arrange their living room furniture in a manner which makes the area conducive to conversations as well as viewing of the television. If the television is positioned where it is not viewable from any of the seating options, the layout of the room is somewhat unnatural. It is not likely to be similar to the layout used by the renter and therefore does not offer an accurate representation of how the space will likely be used.

Getting Your Security Deposit Back

For many renters the subject of the security deposit is somewhat of a touchy subject. Most renters assume they should receive their security deposit back in its entirety as long as there is no significant damage done to the apartment. However, this is rarely true as there are number of factors which contribute to whether or not the security deposit or a portion of the deposit will be returned to the renter when they vacate the premises.

Did You Do Any Major Damage?

Certainly doing major damage to the apartment such as putting holes in the walls, breaking appliances or tearing up the flooring may warrant the security deposit being kept but even in these cases the leasing agent must justify these costs. In other words the leasing agent cannot use one damaged item to justify keeping the whole security deposit. Rather the leasing agent is obliged to determine a cost to repair the item. If this estimate is large enough to justify not returning the security deposit the renter should be informed of the estimated cost of repairing the apartment.

Is Your Apartment Clean Enough?

All apartments should be cleaned thoroughly before the tenant vacates the property. This should include extensive cleaning of all rooms of the apartment including the bedrooms, bathrooms and any common areas. A cleaning should also include cleaning of all of the blinds in the apartment. Blinds can be rather difficult to clean and many leasing agents charge approximately $10 per blind if they deem there is a need to clean these items. This can add up rather quickly if there are a number of windows in the apartment.

Many leasing agents also perform a number of standard cleaning functions when any resident vacates the property. This may include items such as cleaning out the refrigerator, shampooing the carpet or repainting the walls. When these items are required, there is typically a fee associated with each item. In many cases, adding up these required fees results in a number which is likely already approaching the sum of the security deposit. Additionally, leasing agents often only allow for one hour of cleaning services to prepare an apartment for the next residents. This is rarely enough time to complete the work and therefore renters wind up being charged an additional fee at an hourly rate.

Have You Read Your Contract Documents?

Renters who want to have the greatest chance of having a large portion of their security deposit refunded to them should be very familiar with their contract documents. This is important while living in the apartment as well as while getting ready to vacate the apartment. It is important to be familiar with the contract terms while living in the apartment because it can prevent the renter from making decorating choices which are explicitly prohibited by the rental agreement. These types of decisions can be costly in the long run because they may result in the renter being assessed for perceived damages by the leasing agent.

Renters should also carefully review the contract documents as they are preparing to vacate the property. This is important because it may help the renter to clean and make repairs to the apartment in accordance to guidelines set forth by the leasing agent. Doing this will make it much more likely the renter will not be assessed exorbitant fees at the conclusion of the rental agreement.