What to Do, Look For, And Some Questions to Ask
Take Lots of Photos
If the entire family isn’t able to tour all of the potential homes, make sure to take lots of pictures. It’s important to let everyone get a feel for his or her next space. Additionally, it will give you a way to accurately review all of the homes you have toured – keeping your mind organized!
Can You Sublet Spare Rooms?
These days, lots of homeowners and renters are cutting costs by renting spare rooms out to users of AirBNB and other sharing economy lodging sites. You might also be considering taking on a full-time roommate to help make ends meet. But before you bank on rental income as a source of revenue, you’d better be certain that subletting won’t violate your lease, or you and your lodgers could end up looking for a new place to stay.
What Does Rent Cover?
Some landlords include things like garbage and utilities in the monthly rent payment. Others expect you to pay for those things yourself. And some apartment complexes include access to shared spaces such as gyms, swimming pools, and common social areas, while others consider those to be paid extras. Make sure you know what your rent includes, so you can budget accordingly for extra expenses.
Is Parking Included With Your Rental?
If you’re renting a single-family home, then you probably won’t have to worry about parking. However, many apartment complexes charge extra for parking, and some (especially in denser urban areas) don’t offer parking at all. That might not be a worry if you bike everywhere or prefer to take light rail, but if your lifestyle is dependent on convenient access to a car, it can be a major inconvenience.
How Much Will It Cost to Move In? Or Move Out?
Unless this is the first time you’ve searched for a home to rent, you probably know that moving in tends to be a bit more expensive than one month’s rent. Some landlords and property management companies charge two month’s rent up front, plus a security and cleaning deposit. And if you have less-than-ideal credit, you could be in for a bigger security deposit, as well. The bottom line: before you commit to renting a new home, know how much money you’ll need to close the deal.
Water Pressure, Clarity, and Temperature
Does the water run clean or is it rust colored when you first turn it on? Does the shower have enough water pressure to rinse shampoo out of a person’s hair? Does the unit have a dedicated hot water heater or will you be racing to beat your neighbors for a hot shower in the morning?
Doors And Windows
As with the cabinets and drawers, are all doors and windows in good working order? There’s nothing worse than renting a place in the winter only to find out that all the windows are painted shut once the temperature gets above seventy-five.
Exterior Decorating and Yard Maintenance
Are you allowed to paint the interior? Can you decorate exterior spaces such as balconies or patios in the manner of your choosing? Will you be responsible for any or all of the yard maintenance as a tenant?
Pets And Guests
What are the pet and guest policies for the building or unit? Are you allowed to have guests for longer than one or two nights? What if your out of town guests bring their pets along? What if you decide you want to get a pet in the future?
Read: How to Rent With Pets
Check Your Landlord’s Reviews & Reputation!
If you’ve never had the misfortune of renting from an unscrupulous landlord, take a moment to appreciate your good fortune. Now, here’s a tip from the rest of us: check up on your landlord before you sign anything. If a property management company manages your new home, check their rating with the BBB and read their online reviews. If you’re renting from a private individual, run a criminal background check, talk to other tenants, and make sure the property isn’t due for foreclosure.
Does the apartment community or the property owner for the home you are moving into allow pets? You may not have a pet now, but you might want one in the future! Most places that do allow pets have some sort of breed or size restrictions.
Research those restrictions for communities or homes you’re touring beforehand. Many rentals commonly have pet fees as well. This could include a monthly pet fee, extra pet deposit, or often both. Some property owners may not automatically add your pet-related payments into the rent; in this case, make sure to stay on top of the payments to avoid penalty fees.
As well as the potential restrictions set by the property owner or manager, be understanding of neighborhood considerations, whether there are dog parks, walking paths or other amenities that might be positive, or onerous local ordinances limiting animals in homes or public spaces.
Make certain you are aware and follow any homeowner or property regulations, such as animal noise after certain times, picking up after your pet, or use of common areas in the complex or condo scenarios.
These kinds of restrictions can make it more difficult for you to enjoy your pet, and can be a deciding factor between properties that you may like.