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12 Surprises for First-Time Renters in their New Apartment

The crazed Madison move-in is done, and now first-time renters are settled into their new digs.  It’s been a blast decorating and setting things up, having friends over for a visit, and enjoying the fact that you’ve got your OWN PLACE.  But you’ve probably also encountered (or will encounter) these 11 items that tend to surprise first-time renters.

  1. You don’t have a self-cleaning carpet.  Most residents move in with all the typical things you’d need in an apartment – dishes, computer, couch – but they overlook that trusty appliance that keeps ants at bay: The vacuum cleaner.  Yes, you’ll need to vacuum your own apartment, preferably after that late night binge of chips and pizza.
  2. Your microwave may start shooting off sparks.  We are going to remind everyone that you can’t microwave aluminum foil, or it will start on fire (there are many, many people who don’t know this.)  You can also see sparks flying in your microwave if you don’t clean the carousel ring in the center, and that little area with all the holes on it (called the mica waveguide cover).
  3. Your toilet is not a garbage disposal.  Hey, that toilets got a hole, it sucks down anything you throw into it, so why not just use it like a garbage disposal?  Believe us, many have tried.  All have failed.  At some point, anything beyond toilet paper and the bodily byproducts the toilet was created for will cause clogs.
  4. Your shower can give your entire a bathroom a shower.  This little quandary occurs if you neglect to purchase one of the great inventions of the modern-age:  A shower curtain!  Many new renters overlook this essential purchase.  If you do have a curtain and still experience water on the floor, make sure the curtain is inside the tub or base of the shower stall when you use it. If the curtain doesn’t reach the floor either lower the rod or buy an extra-long shower curtain.
  5. You may be the reason there’s mold growing in your apartment.  In Wisconsin, we keep windows close for many months during the year, and we also experience high humidity.  That’s why it’s essential to keep the fan running in your bathroom during your shower and for 30 minutes after your shower, and to clean your bathroom, windowsills or blinds.  These are all hangouts for mold – it’s up to you to eradicate them.
  6. Your refrigerator won’t work if it’s overloaded with food.  Just because you can fit a ton of food into a refrigerator doesn’t mean the refrigerator will be able to keep it cool.  Don’t overload your fridge.  It’s a common problem in multi-roommate houses.
  7. Your keys will all need to be replaced if one roommate loses one.  If you live with multiple roommates, you’ll want to change the locks and get news keys if one roommate loses his or hers.  This isn’t always the case in new apartments like Lucky, which uses keyless entries.  But it will definitely be the issue with other older apartments, so make sure your roommates know the potential costs for misplacing their keys. One lost key is potentially one open door for a stranger!
  8. Your bottom outlet won’t work.  You try plugging your computer into a bottom wall outlet, but it won’t give you any juice.  That’s because the bottom outlets is wired for a lamp, so you can turn it on and off using the wall switch.  Simply turn on the wall switch to give the outlet some juice.
  9. You can’t believe how much some repairs cost.  One of the biggest shocks to a first-time renter is how much you spend whenever something you broke or damaged needs fixing.  For example, typical repairs like screen replacements ($60) or cleaning clogged-disposals ($100) can make a big dent in your monthly budget.
  10. You need water to run the garbage disposal.  If you’ve never had a garbage disposal in your house, know that you have to run water whenever you’re using it.  We’ve had calls from renters who see smoke rising from their disposal.  They didn’t bother running water while the disposal was grinding.
  11. You need have renter’s insurance.  It’s typically a requirement from property owners, but renter’s insurance is a must.  It’s a low-cost way to protect your belongings from a worst-case scenario. If you accidentally start a fire in your kitchen, or forget to turn off the water in the tub and flood the building, you’re on the hook for the ALL of the remediation costs, which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. You’ll want renters insurance to pick up that tab!
  12. Your lease contains community rules. It may be your apartment, but most likely when you signed your lease you also agreed to abide by some community rules. Check your lease, it may include things like: how long friends can stay with you, if you’re allowed to have kegs in your apartment, balcony restrictions, what you can hang in your windows, and if smoking is allowed.

You may shake your head at some of these items, but these are based on maintenance calls and customer service requests we get every year.  It’s to be expected: Living on your own is a new experience, and your new apartment is bound to surprise you sooner or later.

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