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Step 5
How to Search for a Rental Home

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 many pictures. It’s important to let everyone get a feel for his or her next space. Additionally, it will give you a way to organize and accurately review all of the homes you tour.

Can You Sublet Spare Rooms?

These days, many homeowners and renters cut costs by renting spare rooms out to users of Airbnb and other economy lodging-share sites. You might also consider having a roommate to help make ends meet. Before you bank on rental income as a source of revenue, be certain that subletting won’t violate your lease, or you and your lodgers could end up looking for a new place to call home.

What Does Rent Cover?

Some landlords include things like garbage and utilities in the monthly rent payment, while others expect you to pay for those things yourself. 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.

Read: 5 Rental Search Hacks That Will Help You Find Your Dream Rental

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 public transit, but if your lifestyle is dependent on access to a car, it can be a major inconvenience.

How Much Will It Cost to Move In? Or Move Out?

If this is the first time you’ve searched for a home to rent, you probably know that moving in can 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. If your credit is less than ideal, you may also be asked for a bigger security deposit. The bottom line: before you commit to renting a new home, know how much money you’ll need to close the deal.

 What About 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 your hair? Does the unit have a dedicated hot water heater or will you race to beat your neighbors for a hot shower in the morning?

Do the Doors and Windows Function?

As with the cabinets and drawers, are all doors and windows in good working order? There’s nothing worse than renting a place when it’s chilly outside only to find that, come warmer weather, the windows are painted shut.

What are the Rules Regarding 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?

What are the Policies for 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. 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 Better Business Bureau (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.

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