Finding the perfect rental can be a real pain in the… but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re looking for a house, a duplex, or an apartment, be sure to remember these helpful tips to ensure that you don’t get stuck in place that is scary, falling down, and you can’t get out of. I mean, if your landlord won’t return your calls about the AC being out in the middle of summer, chances are you aren’t getting back your deposit.
So, to ensure that you do have an enjoyable renting experience – and get back your much-needed deposit… – let’s dive into just a few things to remember:
- Know your landlord. Or at least, know what other people say about them. Preferably, get the opinion of one of their former tenants. Ask around or even Google them. If you’re new to the area, Google or Facebook may be your best option – many areas of the country now have review pages on Facebook where people can discuss local businesses and the like. Either way: know who you’re renting from!
- Location, location, location. Before you sign that year (or more!) lease, be sure to scope out the area. Drive past the property in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening, on a weekday and the weekend. Is it quiet every time? Chances are it will be a good fit for you – unless you become the noisy one… A good thing to remember here is: if you are nervous or scared at any of the times that you visit the property, just don’t rent it!
- Do a walkthrough. Renting a property without inspecting it first is not smart. Good thing you are smart! Schedule a walkthrough with the landlord and be sure to check everything. Look in every closet, every cabinet, and ask any questions you have. You are about to live in this place! If the landlord seems dodgy or they lie to you – it may be obvious – then walk away and find a new landlord. And while you’re walking through the property, take notes! Big stain on the living room carpet? Write it down. Water pressure in the upstairs bathroom not ideal? Write it down. Small cracks in the wall by the ceiling? Write. It. Down. Check everything you can. Even if it’s in July, turn the furnace on and feel for heat from a vent. Even if it’s in January, turn the AC on and check for cool air from the vents. Flush the toilets. Turn the showers and the sinks on. Girl: your mission on a walkthrough is to find everything that’s broken in that place so you don’t have to live with it or – worse – get blamed for it. Besides: if there is anything that needs fixed, you want it fixed before you move in!
- Be prepared financially. Know what you can spend and know what the landlord expects to be paid. Not only monthly, but what they expect to be paid up front. Most landlords expect the first month of rent and a deposit (which is usually the same amount as a month of rent) when you sign the lease. So, be sure you’re prepared. You will also want to know:
Can you quit the lease early?
Where is your deposit held?
Will you need a guarantor? (A guarantor is someone who will help you with payments in an emergency. If a landlord thinks you’re a risk to rent to, a guarantor can help ease their concerns.)
- Know yourself. There are a few things about you that a landlord may not permit… however unfair, be sure to know the landlord’s position on:
Pets. Do you have them? Know that many landlords these days don’t permit pets on the property. Be sure to clarify that point up front or you may go through all the trouble of finding a place only to be told ‘no pets’. Additionally, bear in mind: if your pets like to destroy things… there’s a chance you could kiss your deposit goodbye when you leave.
Roommates. It doesn’t matter how close you are to a person, if you’re living with them, you’re responsible for their actions. By the way: if they plan to live with you: put their name on the lease! That way, if they host an “awesome party” that results in a hole in a door and a fire in the front bushes, you’re not alone on the hook (by the way: “it wasn’t my fault!” generally doesn’t work in renting situations).
Smoking. Aside from being terrible for your health, smoking is generally not allowed within rental properties any more. Maybe you aren’t a smoker… but be sure to not let your friends do what you can’t inside your rental.
Parties. As mentioned above, parties can get cray cray quick, fast, and in a hurry. Ten friends turns into twelve friends, ten “Facebook friends”, and four people you’re pretty sure just live down the street and stopped by for fun. Look, ladies: just don’t have parties at your rental. Period. Get togethers? Gatherings? A Sunday BBQ? Bachelorette finale watch party? Sure! Have fun! But, please take my advice, avoid “partays”.
Still with me? I know that there’s a lot to remember here, but renting is a huge decision. If you have no decision, it’s still a huge deal. Just keep these things in mind, though, and you’re bound to find a great place to call “home” for a while!