When looking for a house to rent, you should really be as conscious and thorough as if you were buying. After all, the place you choose is, hopefully, going to become your home for a really long time. So, taking the time to plan your move, and make a well-thought-out decision will be crucial to finding a place that makes you happy. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Define Your Budget
Never ever start looking without setting your budget. Take an honest look at your monthly income, subtract the expenses and decide what you can realistically invest on a new rent. This is definitely not the time for wishful thinking so don’t overestimate how much you can spend on a new place, and whatever you do, don’t go looking at places that are well outside of your budget. To make sure you’re staying within your budget, you’ll need to account for any repairs, the utilities that you’ll have to pay, deposits and any extra expenses that might come from moving to a new place (i.e. Will the property mean a more expensive commute? Are there only high-end supermarkets nearby? etc).
One last thing you need to take into account when it comes to budget, is how realistic it is. You don’t want to set a budget of, say $1000 for a three-bedroom property if that’s not something realistic for your area. So, make sure you know what you can expect with the money you have available.
And Your Priorities
Once the money issue is settled, is time to talk about your other priorities. You should have two clear lists: one with the things you absolutely must have, and a second one with things you’re willing to compromise on. Things like location, size, tenancy periods, windows, terraces, etc, should all be in there and you should keep them present later on when you’re visiting properties. Be as honest as possible, if you just can’t live without a big exterior window than you need to keep this in mind when looking at any potential places.
Have a Viewing Checklist
Now, the most crucial part of renting a property is the visit. Sure, some houses will just give you that fuzzy feeling that will make you want to place a bid right then and there but hold on to your horses. Viewing a property isn’t just about a vibe.
There are lots of stuff you need to check, starting with the outside. What are the exterior conditions? Does the house need to be painted? Will you have a garden? And if so, will it be up to you to keep it clean and cut? What about security? Will you have an alarm system? Are there any locks? What do you think about the neighborhood? Is it safe? Are there any potential sources of noise? Do you see yourself living there?
On the inside, you need to have a sharp eye. The more serious issues that should send your running are infestations, mold, and leaks (pro tip: be especially thorough when checking counters, corners, and inside cabinets). Then there’s maintenance issues, such as flaky paint, appliances that might not work, hot water, etc.
This is also the time to ask the landlord any questions you might have. Be sure to ask whether there are any extra costs that you’ll be liable for (alarms, repairs, utilities), what’s included and the rent, and also make sure you get a copy of the tenant agreement so that you can study it in case you decide to make a bid.