Renting can be scary. Committing to live in one place for a set number of weeks or months and provide regular payment or face homelessness is intimidating. The process of finding and securing a house for rent can be long and confusing, but there are a number of things that can be done to make it flow smoothly.
Renting a living space is unique in that a tenant will often pay a little bit more for a smaller share of responsibilities. While some landlords may ask their tenants to take care of some basic property maintenance (such as mowing the lawn or tackling minor repairs), larger projects (such as plumbing or electrical repairs) are typically the responsibility of the property owner. Renting also requires a significantly smaller up-front investment and tends to not be attached to an extremely long commitment, which is generally the case for home buyers. Since leases are typically offered in lengths of 2 years or less, this is a perfect option for those who intend to move or upgrade in the foreseeable future.
Where do I look?
When searching for a rental property, whether a house or apartment, it's important to keep an open mind and explore multiple options. There are dozens of reputable websites that help to connect potential tenants with landlords and, in many cases, these resources also help to facilitate the application process. Local newspapers can be an invaluable source for a self-directed rental search. Many businesses or governmental offices will also have a community posting board that could contain notices of rental listings. Some real estate agents may also help with finding rental properties, depending on the location, budget, and type of property desired.
After picking out a few acceptable rental properties, contact the landlords or leasing agencies for each and schedule viewings. Make notes of any flaws with each location, including physical damage, safety concerns, and issues in the neighborhood. Be sure to ask questions! Find out about the application process (which varies from landlord to landlord), monetary and time commitments, residential amenities, and tenant responsibilities. This can also be an excellent time to reach out to neighbors to get an idea of what renting from a particular landlord or in a specific area is really like.
My application was accepted! Now what?
Before signing a lease or paying any deposit, schedule a final walk through with the landlord so that you can both document any issues with the building and answer any final questions. Be sure to take pictures and write down any faults, including chipped paint, damaged walls or ceilings, dinged appliances, carpet stains, and cracks. Ensure that all plumbing, light switches, and electrical outlets are functional. Keeping a physical record of any damages is extremely important for protecting any initial deposit when the lease is up.
Finding a new rental home can be a challenging, time-consuming process. There are many legal implications to signing a lease and it's very important to ensure protection as a renter by asking questions, keeping thoughtful and detailed documentation, and having a full understanding of responsibilities. Renting can be scary, but it's a great option for a lot of people.