Tips for Renting With a Roommate

Choosing a roommate to share a rental home with can be a great way to split the cost of rent and utilities. It’s also nice to have someone to spend time with when you’re at home. However, if you don’t select whom you plan on signing a lease with wisely, you could end up with a roommate from hell, and a whole mess of problems.  To avoid a sticky living situation, it’s best to choose someone who you know well, like a friend or relative, and someone who has a lifestyle similar to your own. For example, if you are a busy college student, it may not be a good idea to room with someone who is not in school and likes to party five nights a week. To avoid a roommate fallout, follow these helpful tips when making your selection.

Choose a responsible roommate that you trust

Jointly signing a lease with someone else holds you liable for making sure that all rent payments are made on time each month, and you are responsible for taking care of the property throughout the term of the lease, regardless of whether or not you live there the entire time. If your roomie defaults on their portion of the expenses or causes damage to the property, you are just as responsible as they are for the indemnities. The landlord is not a mediator to settle disputes between you and your roommate.

Assign chores and household responsibilities

Before signing a lease with a roommate, make sure that each of you is clear about who is responsible for what chores and household expenses. Unequal participation with household duties is a common problem among roommates, which can lead to resentment and an unpleasant living situation. Also, agree on who is responsible for what living expenses, and decide how and when bills will be paid.

 Be a respectful roommate

Living with someone can be challenging at times, but making compromises and respecting one another is key to a successful and harmonious roommate experience. Confirm that you are both on the same page when it comes to guests, noise, food, chores, pets, etc., because when you enter into a rental agreement with someone, you are sharing more than living expenses.

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Wonderful Space-Saving Home Inspirations

Looking for ways to save space or hide the clutter? When you have limited storage, it’s easy to let your possessions consume (and waste) valuable living space. Mail and bills collect in a permanent pile on the kitchen counter, cosmetics and hair products surround the bathroom sink, clothes litter the floor and furniture, shoes gather in a pile next to the door…  Sound familiar? The solution to your storage problem is all about finding the right products to fit your needs, and you may need to use a little creativity to make a small space look, and feel, bigger. Get inspired with these great space-saving products and ideas to create a functional and organized clutter free home.


Beds are a great way to store items, whether it’s underneath, tucked away in a daybed, or hidden inside like this Pivot Storage Bed Frame by West Elm ($599 for a Queen).


Clear the bathroom vanity and store toiletries, cosmetics and other bathroom necessities, away in cabinets like this Over-the-Tank Space Saver from ($162.45). Baskets are perfect for storing extra TP or for holding a few toiletries and hand towels.


Keep your laundry room tidy and functional with shelving and canvas totes to keep miscellaneous items organized. Attach a retractable clothesline to the wall that is totally discreet when not in use.


Closet organizers help to effectively utilize every inch of available space, while keeping everything easily accessible. Crate and Barrel has great canvas organizers that you can mix and match like the one shown.

Portable kitchen carts like this one from Sears ($349.99) provide storage and add valuable counter space that can be used for food prep, as an eating area or to hold kitchen appliances such as a microwave.


When office space is limited, look for a compact desk like this one from Crate and Barrel ($399). It has a pull-out desktop and file drawer storage, but looks like furniture when not in use!


Clean up your entryway by storing shoes and outerwear away in this Paterson Black Storage Bench with Wheat Cushion and Panel from Crate and Barrel ($547).

          Your garage may be the last place that you think of organizing, but it’s easy with the Rubbermaid FastTrack System. It consists of tracks that are mounted to the wall and you can buy an assortment of hooks, shelves and baskets for storing tools, bikes, sporting goods, etc., making everything easily accessible and out of the way.
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Get the “Moves Like Jagger” at his luxurious vacation rental in the Caribbean

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Vacation like a celebrity- Mick Jagger that is- by renting his stunning beachfront villa, Stargroves, located on Mustique Island in the Caribbean. The six-bedroom, Japanese-inspired retreat has six pavilions connected by elevated walkways that are surrounded by the island’s beautiful landscapes. Accommodations on the property include a private tennis court, pool and hot tub, indoor and outdoor dining spaces, a game room with billiards table, a Jeep, and your own personal staff including a housekeeper, gardener and chef. The cost is $15,000-$19,000 per week and occupancy is only granted upon Jagger’s approval after reviewing each rental application himself; all of which must include the names and occupations of each guest. This spectacular vacation getaway is sure to fulfill your complete satisfaction!

*Information provided by Travel+Leisure ( Images by Paradizo (


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Helpful Tips to Boost Your Credit Score

A bad credit score is like a huge barrier, limiting all of your financial decisions and goals. According to msn.MONEY, scores under 620 can “make obtaining loans and credit cards with reasonable terms difficult.” It can be an embarrassing topic to discuss and reveal when the numbers are, let’s say, less than desirable, however, you are not alone, as there are millions of Americans in the same boat, and there is help for improving your credit and moving on with your life.

The first step to taking control of your credit score is to know what your current scores are from the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that each person is allowed one free credit report in a 12 month period. The following sites are good references for obtaining your scores:

Once you know where you stand, you can be proactive in repairing or improving your score by making a financial plan and referring to these helpful tips provided by msn.MONEY.

1.    Apply for a credit card and make sure to pay it off every month. Be sure that the purchases you make on the card can be paid off in full every month, so that you do not carry a balance. Carrying a balance from month to month is an easy way to fall into credit card debt and is the reason why many people establish bad credit in the first place. If you are unable to get a regular card, you can get a secured credit card issued by a bank in which you deposit money to, and you can only make purchases equal to that amount so you can never go over your limit. Make sure that the card you apply for reports to all three credit bureaus.

2.    Apply for a small installment loan. An installment loan (personal, auto, mortgage and student loans) is a way to show financial responsibility by making regular payments to pay it down over a period of time. Again, make sure that the loan is reported to all three credit bureaus.

3.    Pay down your credit cards. Pay down the balances on your existing cards to increase the gap between the amount of credit used and the credit limit, as lenders like to see a big gap between the two. A good rule of thumb is to spend less than 30% of your credit limit on each card. So if your limit is $5,000, do not spend more than $1,500 on that card. Instead of paying down the card with the highest interest rate first, you may want to pay down the cards that are closest to their limit first and get the balance below 30% of the limit.

4.    Use your cards lightly. Don’t carry high balances on your cards, even if you do pay them off in full every month. The balance on your monthly statement is what is reported to the credit bureaus, so keep the balance under 30% of the limit. If you need to, you can divide purchases on separate cards to keep the balances down, or make a payment on the card before the monthly statement is generated. Many credit card companies allow you to set up text/email alerts to notify you when you are about to reach the limit so you can keep track of your balance each month.

Improving your credit report by making a plan to show financial responsibility will open many doors to financial freedom in the future. Establish good credit by setting a budget to manage your credit cards and pay down loans. It takes time to raise your score, but making the commitment to do so is a huge step and one worth taking. Don’t’ let a bad score hold you back from achieving your financial goals.


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*Information provided by msn.TODAY ( This website is not at all affiliated with the websites referenced.

Protect Your Security Deposit

Security deposits are funds collected by the landlord at the start of your tenancy to cover unpaid rent or damages to the rental unit that are incurred during occupancy. The deposit is typically equal to one or one and a half month’s rent, and usually there is an additional pet deposit if any pets will be living in the residence. The funds are held throughout the term of the lease and may be refunded when you leave as long as your account is paid up to date, no damage was done to the unit and you leave it as clean as it was when you moved in. Failure to do any of these could result in full or partial forfeiture of your security deposit.

Before settling in to a new rental unit, document the initial condition of the property by taking pictures, and make a list with detailed descriptions of any prior defects or damages. Be sure to confirm these issues with the landlord at this time, so come moving day you are both on the same page as to what the condition of the unit was at the start of your tenancy. The time in which a landlord must return a security deposit varies from state to state. Refer to this link to check the security deposit deadline in your state: Deadline for Returning Security Deposits, State-by-State


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NOLO Law for All

New year, new home? Setting your goals for 2012

A new year brings new goals, new opportunities and a sense of optimism for change and growth for the future. Accomplishing these aspirations to achieve a successful year takes time, effort and a good plan. If moving to a new home is one of your goals for 2012, take some time to determine your wants and needs for the new place, determine your budget, and research your desired location. It’s a good idea to begin your search months before you plan to move, so that you can stay updated on new listings that become available, and be prepared when the right property turns up.

 The spring and summer months are a popular time for rental leases to expire, and when they are listed on the market, good rentals go fast. If there is a particular apartment/condominium complex or rental home that you are interested in, it is a good idea to inquire about it with the landlord, even if it is not listed on the market to see when and/or if it will be available. Although you may not be able to secure occupancy at this time, expressing interest to the landlord and possibly completing an application may give you an advantage for occupying the residence when it is ready.

 Planning ahead and being organized and prepared is the key to success, especially when looking to rent in todays competitive rental market. Stay updated on new listings and if an appealing opportunity to rent presents itself, be ready to submit all of the required paperwork to the landlord in a timely manner.

 ***Remember… Many landlords require additional documentation along with the application such as a recent credit report, bank statement, copies of your driver’s license or state ID and an application fee.  Ensure the landlord that you express serious interest in the property before it is occupied by someone else by submitting everything on the same day, if possible, because many landlords will not evaluate an application without it.

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Top 10 tips for renting a vacation home

Planning a vacation this winter to escape the cold? Instead of staying in an expensive hotel or resort, consider renting a luxury condo or home in your ideal vacation spot. This can save you a lot of money when traveling, as you have your own private kitchen instead of dining out every meal, and there is more space to relax and enjoy your stay. This is especially a great option when traveling with a group.

ABC News listed 10 Vacation Rental Tips that are important to consider when looking for a vacation rental home.

1. Choose a popular rental destination. These areas will have more rentals on the market, which means, competitive prices. (Popular locations in the US include Arizona, Nevada, California, Florida, North Carolina and Hawaii)

2. Comparison shop. The following internet sites are a great resource for rental home listings:

3. Don’t send money until you sign paperwork. Read the fine print of the lease including cancellation policies and security deposits. Also, check out their website and feedback from previous renters. 

4. Know exactly what’s included. Check if utilities, cable and internet are included.

5. Have an emergency contact person. Make sure that you have the name, number and email of who to contact if there is a problem with the rental.

6. Is the home family friendly? Check the bed configurations and look at pictures of the home to make sure that it fits your family’s needs.

7. Can you bring a pet? If it is pet-friendly, check if there is a size limit.

8. Is a refund available if you leave early? Check the contract to see if they will issue a partial refund in the event you need to leave early.

9. Love the house you pick. Once you sign a lease for a property, that’s what you get so make sure it’s exactly what you want. Remember that you get what you pay for, so if something seems like too good of a deal, there is probably a reason for it.

10. Reserve early. To get the best deal, reserve early. November, December and January are popular rental months so it is typical to rent as early as six months out.


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*Information provided by ABC News (

Celebrity Rental Fact: Rent Oprah’s Stunning Chicago Apartment!

Yes, it’s true. Oprah Winfrey could be your landlord! Her stunning Chicago apartment, located at 199 East Lake Shore Drive, #6E in the prestigious Gold Coast neighborhood along Lake Michigan, is available for rent for $15,000/month. This spacious 4,600 square foot piece of prime real estate boasts soaring 10-foot ceilings, a grand foyer, solarium, butler’s pantry, wine room, library, 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a two-car garage and a lifestyle saturated with elegance and luxury.

Oprah purchased the lavish apartment in 2006 but never actually lived there due to privacy concerns. It was listed for sale in June 2008 for $6 million but didn’t sell so it was pulled off the market in January 2009.

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*Information provided by and

Celebrity Rental Fact: Michael Jackson’s Rented Mansion

From December 2008 until the time of his death on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson rented a beautiful French Chateau estate located at 100 North Carolwood Drive in Los Angeles, California.  The gorgeous 8 bedroom, 11 bathroom mansion is approximately 16,000+ square feet and includes a 7 car garage, swimming pool and pool house, wine cellar, exercise room and movie theater.  So what is the monthly rent for this spectacular estate?? Michael Jackson paid an astonishing $100,000 a month for this fully furnished home!

This December, all of the items in the home, including the bed where the pop star took his last breath, will be auctioned off by Julien’s Auctions.  The mansion is also up for sale at an undisclosed price, but the estimated market value is approximately $20M.

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*Information provided by, the LA Times &

What are your tips for renting? Let us know!

What did you find most helpful, useful or just good to know from your renting experience???  Please share with others who are in the same situation some good tips and knowledge that you have learned along the way!

Here’s one… Because many landlords don’t allow or discourage walls to be painted, add your personal touch with home décor such as wall art, accent pillows, colorful vases, drapes, decorative mirrors or cool lighting to warm up the space and make it more inviting!

***Here are some great (affordable) home decorating places to check out***





Garden Ridge


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