Tips for renting living space in Kenosha County

Originally published in the Kenosha News

By Health and Well-being Educator, Mary Metten

When I was in college and my early 20s, I rented a lot and moved several times. It felt like nonstop packing, moving and roommates.

One apartment in particular still bothers me when I think back. At the end of the lease, my roommate and I were both moving out. We packed up our respective belongings, cleaned up and hit the road. On to bigger and better things, not giving the old place much thought.

That is, until I was contacted regarding a balance due for damages to the apartment.

Wait, what damages to the apartment? We were both young and somewhat immature, but certainly did not trash apartments. Long story short, the landlord said there was damage to the carpet and would need replacement. After a quick consultation with my friend, we realized neither of us bothered to go to the move out inspection with the landlord. They had the form they completed, and we had our word and memory, which did not bode well in attempting to fight the charges.

At the end of it all, we lost the security deposit and ended up having to settle the additional charges since we had no proof. A good lesson learned; nonetheless, I took the hard road there.

Renting in Kenosha County

It is well known that Kenosha County will continue to grow in the future. Lots more people bring a need of somewhere for them to live, and many will be renting.

Kenosha County had an eviction rate of 3.47 percent in 2016, right near the top for all counties in Wisconsin; not a right-near-the-top statistic we want to have. People are evicted for circumstances like not paying rent, damaging the home, violating a lease, criminal activity and even being uninformed and getting taken advantage of as tenants.

When someone is evicted, it is upheaval of their family and belongings and expensive for all parties. It also negatively reflects on rental and credit history.

Being a strong renter

Paying your rent on time is part of being successful, but not the only important aspect of renting.

Before you sign a lease and move, educate yourself about who you would be renting from and the area where you may be moving. Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day and see how things look.

The lease should outline specific accountabilities for the property; always read what you are signing. During the year, get everything in writing. Once you move in, take care of what is there. Keeping the home damage-free will go a long way toward ensuring your security deposit is returned and keeping the landlord content.

Cultivating positive relationships with your landlord and neighbors will serve you well. It is good to live in a peaceful environment, and if there is a positive relationship established, any issues down the line can be solved easier and hopefully without needing a third party.

If you or your organization would like to know more about a tenant education program that will be offered by UW-Extension, please contact mary.metten@kenoshacounty.org.