Renting a new home is a big step, especially if it’s the first-ever home you are renting. Especially if this is your first, there are a few things that you should consider before you sign up to rent any of the prospective homes that you might have in mind.
First, you should decide on your needs – do you know just how many bedrooms you want your home to have? How about bathrooms? Does it have a bath or a shower? And, just how much are they asking for rent per week or month – and are they asking for a deposit?
There are many more important questions that people who are looking to rent a home should ask, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed – or to sign yourself into a deal that sounded great at first, but trickles down to a terrible trap in just a few weeks to months.
Here’s some practical advice for how you should go about renting your first home, and just what questions you should be asking your prospective landlord.
Deciding Your Needs
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The first thing that you should decide when you are thinking of renting a home is just what your needs are when it comes to a place to live. Are you looking for a place that has one bedroom or more? Should it be a fenced and stand-alone home, or are you looking for an apartment instead? You should also know how much, at least more or less, you have available to pay – and remember that many landlords ask for a double deposit on top of the first month’s rent.
Other important things you might want to keep in mind is whether or not the apartment or house is pet-friendly – even if you don’t have any pets now, this might change with time, and you should know early on if your landlord will be accommodating.
Some people prefer wooden floors to tiles, others will look at the amount of space, bedrooms or bathrooms as their defining factor. It’s different for everyone. Decide on your needs early on so you can avoid any trouble later.
Choosing the Right Area
If you’re looking for a rental, you’ll also have to decide just where you want your home to be: Most people choose homes that are nearby to their jobs, other people might be relocating because they’ve just taken another job offer and this is part of their overall plan.
Some people choose areas for being closer to shopping malls, while others will choose a home that’s close to a bus route or school. Again, which area you choose to rent in will depend on your individual needs – and the overall asking price for homes in the area.
Contacting Prospective Rentals
Once you’ve spotted a potential rental that you like, you should send the prospective landlord or agent a message to introduce yourself. Always keep it simple, and always be police. A simple, “Hey, I just saw the ad you placed for the rental – is it still available?” is enough to strike up a conversation and gives you the room to start asking the right questions.
Speaking to a potential landlord for ten minutes is usually enough to break the ice, get more information about the rental – and figure out if you and the landlord will be able to get along. Sometimes, people just don’t – and in that case, keep looking until you find another suitable rental.
Ask the right questions; now is the time to ask them anything you might want to know about the terms of your rental – and if there’s anything you don’t like, move on. There’s no such thing as, “Maybe this will change and get better later on.” when it comes to rentals – if you’re not happy with the terms, find something else.
Arranging a Viewing
Once you’ve spoken to the prospective landlord and gotten the basic information about the home that you’re interested in renting, it’s time to arrange a viewing. Find out when the landlord is available to show the property, and arrange a meeting time that suits both of you.
Always take someone else along when a viewing has been arranged. It ensures that you don’t get trapped in any uncomfortable or dangerous situations – yes, there are a lot of dangerous people out there, and you don’t want to turn into tomorrow’s headline if the landlord turns out to be a serial killer or a scammer instead.
It’s a good idea to take someone who knows their stuff, so to speak: Someone who knows about building structure and plumbing can be a lot of use when you’re checking out a place, and they might spot flaws that you never would have.
If you’ve seen the property and you like what you see, then it’s time to get to the really important questions.
The Really Important Questions
So, what are the really important questions?
- Find out whether utility bills (and any other charges) will be included in your rent, or will be charged separately. Also find out how utility bills will be sent to you – sometimes you have to re-register utilities to your name, and this can be a nightmare to remove from your name when you move: Keep this in mind, too.
- Ask whether a deposit is payable beforehand – and make sure that your deposit is kept safe in an interest-bearing trust account for when you move again. Some landlords ask for a double-deposit. Also make sure that there are no illegal or surprise charges that can come back to bite you – if yes, move along to another rental.
- Ask whether or not there are any included extras, like furniture or security – this can be an important factor when choosing a home.
- Ask whether or not the landlord has insurance, much like HomeLet landlord’s insurance – this will protect both you and the landlord if it ever becomes necessary to claim from insurance for events like roof damage due to storms or other wear-and-tear.
- Ask to see the contract – but don’t sign it right this second. Always have a contract looked over by a professional attorney first – in most cases, a first consultation with an attorney costs you nothing, but saves you a lot of time in the long run.
How have your rental experiences been as a landlord or tenant? Do you have any tips that can make things easier for others who are looking for accommodation? Share it with us using the hashtag #MyFirstRentalHome!