Renting a Home
Much like purchasing a home, finding suitable rental housing starts with knowing your financial standing and monthly budget. Next, decide what type of rental best fits your needs: a singlefamily home, condo, town home or apartment?
Do you want a roommate? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Do you want a garage? Do you prefer city life, or would you be more at home in a suburb or in the country?
How close do you want to be to work, schools, shopping or public transportation? What do you consider must-have amenities? Knowing these answers will help you in the next stage — your search for a rental.
Nowadays, most online rental sites feature detailed unit information, photos of the properties and search engines based on price, location and desired amenities. Many websites offer rent specials and are updated to reflect unit availability.
Websites such as www.rent.com and www.apartmentguide.com are good places to begin your search. If you are searching for a house, condo or town home, property management companies and real estate offices may be able to help, as well.
Once you’ve narrowed down your potential rental options, here are a few details to consider:
• Understand the total financial commitment. What are the costs of deposits and application fees? Are any utilities included in the rent? How much is a typical monthly summer and winter utility bill? Will the rent increase when the lease expires? Is a pet deposit required? Be sure to determine the cost of renter’s insurance and the potential impact on your automobile insurance, as these rates are often based on location.
• Interview the management staff or the property’s management company. Are they located on site? How quickly do they respond to issues? Are they making any improvements to the complex or surrounding property?
Ask for references to check their past performance. Was the staff responsive when called? Were there any issues in getting the security deposit back in a timely manner?
• Talk to nearby tenants or potential neighbors. Do they enjoy living there? How is parking for tenants and their guests? How are noise levels inside and outside the units?
• Visit the neighborhood during the times you would usually be home. How is traffic around this area? Note the parking and noise conditions.
• Check with the local law enforcement office to review the neighborhood’s crime rate. • Review any association rules to be sure you can live within its guidelines.
Read the lease carefully before you sign. Do a thorough walkthrough of the residence and note issues with the property on the lease or a separate document. Be sure to have a member of the property management staff sign and date the document to ensure you don’t have to pay for any previous damage.
Make sure the lease specifies the beginning and end of your lease term, the monthly rent rate, when it is due and the amount of any deposits you have made. The lease should also detail the amount of notice you are required to give/ receive before moving out, the condition the unit must be in upon move out and the amount of time the rental company has to return any refundable deposits.