Rent efficiently this season by doing your homework

Jonny Anyaogu, leasing agent for Campustown Properties, shows an apartment to Katrina Garagiola, sophomore in graphic design, and Francesca Butler, sophomore in event management, on Jan. 15.

Madison Martin

Renting season in Ames is here.

Students are beginning their search to “lock-in” a new apartment with a lease to move into for the 2013-2014 school year.

Property management companies often own a lot of different complexes and houses, offering all types of living. Hunziker Property Management is a large player in the Ames renting market. There are a lot of different options in Ames as far as leasing a new place goes: Apartments, duplexes, condominiums, townhomes and houses are all available within the area.

Gary Hunziker, owner of Hunziker Property Management, shared a few tips and words of advice facing this year’s renting season.

“One thing when looking for an apartment is to be sure to understand what is included in the price,” Hunziker said. “A lot of time, they [students] are just comparing rent prices. An apartment may seem cheaper because the rent is less, but after paying utilities, it may end up being more out of pocket.”

Utilities often include costs for water, electric, sewer, trash and gas.

Students may want internet and cable in addition. However, a lot of property management companies include some of these utilities in the base price of rent. Cable and internet may even be among those utilities provided.

Before signing a lease, be sure to tour different units. Students need to see firsthand what they will live in.

“Call ahead; we can consult with you [the possible tenant] and find out what you may want to look at. Often times we can get them in the next day,” Hunziker said.

Application forms can often be found on the management companies’ website. It may be a good idea to have them filled out at the time of the tour.

Be prepared to put down a deposit if you want to snag yourself a unit.

An important tool in renting is acquiring renter’s insurance. This asset is essentially equivalent to car insurance, in that it covers the roof over your head and your belongings inside it.

“It [renter’s insurance] covers your liability and your personal property. Everything you work for, basically. It will help protect your assets,” said Alex Andrews, a representative at Scott Richardson’s State Farm office on Main Street.

In situations where personal property may be stolen or ruined beyond repair, having a policy will save the renter from buying everything all over again.

“If you don’t have renter’s insurance, you have to start from ground zero and buy all new things with your personal money,” Andrews said.

While personal belongings are important, so is protecting our financial future.

“If there is a fire in your apartment, and it burns down the building and you don’t have renter’s insurance, the owner can come after you,” Andrews said.

“With a small fee each month, we will give you a check to buy new stuff, cover liability cases and we’ll put you in a hotel if necessary,” Andrews said.

Keep in mind, insurance only covers up to the amount of coverage paid.

“Renter’s insurance is very important. There have been cases over break where tenants turn their heat off over break and the pipes bust,” Hunziker said. ”They are responsible for the damage to their own property, as well as others’ property. Insurance protects them. When things like this happen, an apartment itself may cost $8,000 to $10,000 to repair.”

In retrospect, that $8,000 is not covering the monetary amount needed to repair damage to surrounding units. It is safer and cheaper to be covered by insurance.

Multiple insurance companies offer renters insurance. Most insurance offices in Ames offer a policy.

“You can call us and we can set it up over the phone, or you can stop by the office as well. It’s very inexpensive,” Andrews said.