Nearly 37 percent of United States residents rent their home as opposed to owning it, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s the country’s highest rental rate in more than a half-decade. While renting a house or apartment has its parks, renters should avoid making these common mistakes.

Signing the Lease Without Reading It

Even if it’s 20 or more pages, renters should take the time to read the lease before signing it. Some nefarious landlords and property managers include hidden clauses in their leases, such as prohibiting tenants from allowing guests to stay overnight for two or more consecutive days. Tenants who violate these clauses may be kicked out their home and face an early lease termination fee in the process.

Overlooking Security and Pet Deposits

When choosing a house or apartment, renters should inquire about the security deposit. Most landlords and property managers require new tenants to pay a security deposit in addition to the first month’s rent. If a renter has a pet, he or she may also be required to pay a pet deposit. The cost of these deposits can quickly add up, so renters should budget accordingly for them searching for a place to rent.

Not Taking Photos Before Moving

After signing the lease but before moving in, renters should take photos of the house or apartment. Photos provide concrete evidence of the property’s state before it has been altered by the renter. If the landlord or property manager claims the renter damaged the property while he or she was living there, the renter can object this acquisition using photos.

Choosing the First Rental Property

The secret to finding the perfect rental property is to shop around. Even if a rental house or apartment has all the right amenities, another property might be available at a lower price or in a better location. The only way a renter will know, however, is by shopping around and comparing multiple properties.

Overlooking Utilities

Finally, renters should inquire about the property’s utilities. Most rental houses and apartments require renters to purchase their own utilities through a utility company that services the area. Some, however, offer utilities at no additional charge. If a rental property offers no-charge utilities, renters can expect to pay a higher price for it.

Renting certainly has its challenges when compared to buying a home. By avoiding these mistakes, though, renters can enjoy the perks of renting without many of the headaches that come with it.