14 Things You Need to Know Before Renting a House
Just like any other major life decision, renting a property comes with its fair share of decision-making, research, and responsibility; so the more informed you are, the smoother the whole process will be.
Renting indeed has its advantages to buying, from not paying property taxes to moving homes flexibly. However, the process of renting can be challenging, and you want to make sure you are going into the process being as prepared as you can be to avoid making mistakes that will later cost you time and resources.
Research the Neighborhood
Before you rush into the apparent steps of renting, you need to make sure the area you will be living in is up to par with your expectations and values.
Is the neighborhood safe? Are there schools nearby? What are the bus routes? Are you close to hospitals? What kind of amenities are in the area?
It’s always a good idea to take your time to come up with a list of places and structures you want to have in your neighborhood, such as gyms, gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. This can make the researching part of the process more organized to make informed decisions based on your actual values and expectations. You can research online, let’s say you’re interested in Raleigh rentals, just jump on google and search for stores, gyms, and other interests of yours in that area.
Find Out the Fair Market Rent
Researching the market values and asking for various opinions can make or break a deal for you. Try to ask around real estate agencies for market values to determine the accurate and fair value of similar houses to your property.
Research the neighborhood to see what the other landlords are charging their tenants for similar properties.
Consider Your Budget
A considerable part of renting is also knowing your budget. Take a careful look into your finances and determine how much you are willing to spend on housing.
If you need to start saving up for a better and more comfortable home, try to plan out what kind of expenses you can cut. Making a list of wants vs. needs can be an excellent idea for this.
As long as you are saving up to rent a property, try to limit your spending to what you need. Once you feel comfortable with the amount you have set aside for your renting budget, then you can go back to the way you used to spend if you see fit.
Know What is Included in the Rent
Don’t forget to check whether or not the amount of rent presented to you includes utilities. You can estimate how much utilities will cost each month, but the best way is to ask your landlord the monthly amount that other tenants pay on top of their rent.
Remember to allocate extra just in case they end up costing you more than you initially thought it would.
Discuss Paying Money in Advance
One of the most significant advantages of renting over buying is that you don’t have to worry about down payments. Renting a house almost always ends up being less costly in the short term. However, you have to keep in mind that most landlords will ask for a deposit and one or a couple of months’ rent when you first rent a place.
The number of months and the amount of the deposit needed depends on your landlord's insurance, but tenants usually pay for one month of rent upfront and one month of rent for the deposit. You can always negotiate the numbers, so don’t be afraid to ask your landlords if you think the security deposit can be amended.
Obtain Renters Insurance
As much as none of us like to think about it, unexpected things happen when you move into a new home.
It’s crucial to know that while the landlord’s insurance covers the house or the structure of your home in general, you are still the one responsible for the specific belongings in the place, not the landlord.
Natural disasters like fires and storms or break-ins and vandalism are all possible and unfortunate events that can happen once you move in. Having renters insurance is what will save you down the road.
Think about everything you own in a house; in case of an emergency, can you afford to replace them all yourself out of pocket? It’s better to have peace of mind regarding insurance, knowing you will be covered no matter what kind of emergency occurs.
Ask About Pets
Having a checklist of the utilities included in the house is a must, and so is keeping your pets in mind. Ask your landlord about having animals on the property. If the place is not pet-friendly, you might need to start looking elsewhere wholly. Most landlords can’t change their no-pet policy, so it’s essential to know where you stand regarding your pets.
Inspect the Place Thoroughly
Look very closely and pay attention when you are doing your initial inspection. Take a note of everything that works and doesn’t work, and make sure to point out everything to the landlord once the assessment is over.
Are appliances included in the renters’ inventory? And if so, do they all work satisfactorily? Ask your landlord for a written checklist of everything that is in your care once you move in. This is the list that the landlord will examine once you move out and determine whether you are getting your security deposit back.
If you notice any defects while inspecting the house, write the damages down and make a copy for your landlord as well. You can take pictures for further proof if you want.
Maintenance and Other Responsibilities
Before you sign a lease, make sure to discuss who is responsible for maintenance and home repairs. The landlord covers some things, and other times you are the one stuck with the repair bill. Whatever it is, come to a mutual agreement.
Don’t forget to keep up with the maintenance. If you notice something’s damaged, don’t procrastinate and inform your landlord as soon as possible.
Whether you are paying for the repair or the landlord is, make sure to take a picture and inform them once it’s fixed and in good shape.
Read the Contract Carefully
No one wants to sign anything without reading it thoroughly, and rent leases are of most importance.
Whatever the terms are, make sure you understand and agree with them completely, because once that paper is signed, then you have agreed to everything it includes.
It’s not a bad idea to have a realtor or an attorney take a look over the terms to ensure everything is up to par with the standards.
The last thing you want after moving in is suddenly coming face to face with surprises from your landlord.
Talk to the Landlord Before Any Customizations
If certain features you want to be changed in the house, like changing the wallpaper, make sure to talk to your landlord before making any alterations. It’s often a good idea to bring up any customization you want during your visit so that maybe your landlord will agree to make the changes for you. Just remember to discuss and be clear with what you want.
You Can Challenge the Terms and Conditions of the Contract
Despite what many tenants think, they can have quite a lot of say in what terms go into the agreement. If you are not happy with specific points in the lease, discuss them with your landlord and try to work around them to reach the best conclusion. Remember to do this before you have signed the lease, or else your requirements might not make it into the contract.
Try to maintain a civil and respectful relationship with your landlord, and things can become so much easier.
Put Everything You Agree on in Writing
Any additions you wish to make to the contents of the lease should be written down. Inventory items, rent amount, security deposit details, etc., should be written, agreed on, and signed by both parties.
Clarify everything you need to know, and put it in writing. This is to protect yourself and ensure that you get your security deposit back once you want to move out.
Know Your Rights
Ensure you know everything there is to know when it comes to your rights in your new home. For example, during the renting process, certain things like race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion that your landlord can’t legally ask you about.
To go into your renting process smoothly, make sure to search for your state and area’s “tenant’s rights.”