Besides pop culture references and snappy comebacks, sitcoms are famous for their unrealistic representations of housing. Whether it’s set in New York or Chicago, TV shows feature an apartment that’s out of the character’s league. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t show any practical lessons about housing. Real estate can be overwhelming. You have to navigate through the legal stuff, get a reliable real estate agent, and sort out your finances. From disputes with landlords to overpriced properties, sitcoms show real problems that renters and homebuyers face.
Here are three lessons you can take from three different comedy series:
Know Thy Neighbor
In the final season of Friends, Chandler and Monica are preparing to move to the suburbs where they would raise their kids. One of the main problems they encountered was because of the house next door to their property. They found out that Chandler’s ex was buying it, would create an awkward situation. By the end of the episode, they managed to solve the problem due to typical sitcom antics. While their solution may not be applicable to real life, the lead characters did something that every homebuyer should do. They checked out the neighborhood before closing the deal.
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions a person will make. It’s why it’s important to cover all your bases before making the commitment. One of the best ways to reduce your chances of making a mistake is by doing research. HGTV recommends visiting the neighborhood at different times of day. You’ll get to have an accurate idea of what it’s like to live there before spending anything.
Establish Boundaries and Responsibilities
It’s important not to place your trust in new people too quickly, especially if you’re moving to a new city. There are people who can and will take advantage of outsiders who are unfamiliar with the local laws. It’s one of the important lessons from the pilot episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy, who’s naive and out of touch, agreed to pay for additional fees without any legal basis. Her roommate manipulated her into paying for several deposits and furniture that was already broken before she moved in.
While it can be hard to find a decent place to live, don’t settle and agree to awful terms. T here are limits to what landlords or home sellers can ask of you. One example is security deposits. In most states, landlords can only require you to pay for a few months. There are also some other restrictions before they can impose such requirements. Some jurisdictions only allow months of deposits if the property is furnished or if the lease lasts for at least one year. Make sure to check the local laws before you pay up. If the landlord is willing to take advantage of you right from the beginning, it can be a bad sign for the rest of your stay.
Get It in Writing
Contracts can be a headache. You have to navigate the legal mumbo jumbo and follow its many conditions. But there’s a reason why it’s used for a lot of important transactions — it’s necessary. It’s what Lily learned in one of the episodes of How I Met Your Mother. After staying with her fiancé for 3 months, she found out that her apartment has been turned into a restaurant. Because she didn’t have a formal lease, she can’t make her landlady accountable. She had no legal proof, so she can’t sue.
Formal contracts are a two-way street. The renter or homebuyer promises to pay a certain amount within a particular period. The owner of the property promises to disclose any serious issues the house may have. For residential leases, one of the most important parts is the implied warranty of habitability. Because of this section, landlords are responsible for important repairs and replacements. If your locks or toilets are broken, it’s up to the owner to fix them. Before you spend a cent, make sure to have a formal lease. While it can be a hassle, it’s all worth it in the end. Remember that it’s not just for your landlord’s benefit. It also offers you important protection that you can use throughout your stay.
As you watch your favorite comedy series, take note of its portrayal of real estate problems. It may seem far-fetched but there are plenty of lessons to take away from old or new sitcoms. While it may not always be realistic or practical, they do provide useful advice from time to time.