It's getting to be that time of summer where college students across the country prepare to head back for another school year and move into their new apartments for fall semester.
Whether you're living alone for the first time or moving in with roommates, it's important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and review the lease again prior to moving in.
Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has tips for a seamless and stress-free moving day.
Choosing an Apartment
Document your apartment's move-in condition. Note each and every flaw or defect on your move-in condition form, so that you aren't held responsible for those damages later.
Take photos of your apartment. Before you bring anything in, take photos of the floors, walls, appliances, windows and anything else you may be held liable for after you move out. This is so that you have documentation available if a dispute were to arise between you and the landlord after moving out.
Keep a copy of your lease in a safe place that can easily be referenced.
If you are searching for last minute living arrangements, be able to identify the red flags of a rental scam:
A popular apartment scam these days involves a crook gaining access to an apartment or home and showing it under the guise of being the real landlord or owner. To sweeten the pot, this person might offer a deal on the deposit, or pick up some of the fees. You could end up end up without your first month's rent, security deposit and a place to live if you fall for this bait.
The deal sounds too good to be true.
The landlord is located elsewhere and prefers to only communicate via email.
The landlord requires a substantial deposit before handing over the keys or even showing the property.
The landlord asks the renter to wire money through services such as Western Union or Money Gram.
Hiring the right moving company
No matter the size of your move, before hiring a moving company, check out its business review on bbb.org. Here you can see if any complaints have been filed against the company, ITS time in business, contact information and even request a quote for your move from accredited businesses that are committed to uphold BBB'sstandards for trust.
Beware of the bait-and-switch. When you get an estimate from a moving company, be aware and cautious of the possibility of a bait-and-switch scam. While the company may quote you a lowball estimate in the weeks leading up to your move, on the day of, you may be told the load is larger than expected and that the final price will be much higher. In order to avoid a bait-and-switch scam, check for complaints filed against the company and for a pattern of similar complaints. That's a red flag for consumers and an incentive to keep looking for reputable movers.
Keep an eye out for "lost" items. During a move, valuables may "disappear" or become damaged. In order to avoid either situation, buy full value protection from your mover. This will ensure anything damaged beyond repair or lost will be replaced.
Look out for extra charges. An unethical moving company may give you an honest estimate for moving your items, but then charge you for moving supplies such as packing tape, shrink wrap, bubble wrap and more. Before selecting a moving company, you should typically receive two quotes: one for the cost of moving your items and one for the cost of packing your items. Go over both of these in detail and have them on-hand on your moving day.
Get an in-person estimate. The price of a move is most often based on the weight and size of your items - factors best determined in person. Beware of over-the-phone estimates that may not accurately quote your move; crooks are less likely to send someone out in advance to give a legitimate estimate. As a rule of thumb, its best to get at least three written in-home estimates before selecting a moving company to work with. This way everything is documented and a representative from the company is already familiar with your home and belongings.
About BBBFor more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB business reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, and charity reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.