Being excited about renting your future home is quite understandable - you’re ready for a change and eager to settle down. However, you mustn’t let all the exhilaration get in the way of your good judgment. So, what to do in order to get the most out of your renting experience? Here are some questions you shouldn’t forget to ask even if you’re put you on the spot to decide then and there.
The First Step
Firstly, do some online research so you know what to expect from the offer. It’s easy enough – find a suitable online property report tool and take a comprehensive look at the property’s sales and rental history, local market statistics, listing activity, neighborhood demographics, size of land or floor area, number of bedrooms, bathrooms or parking spaces, even current and historical listing photos. Most importantly, you’ll be able to see a price estimate guide among other real estate information.
* Pay Special Attention To
Once you narrow down your search online, it’s time to visit your potential home. What you will probably inquire about first is the rent. You see the figures, but do you know what is included in the rent price? If cable, gas or electric connections are to be paid separately, ask if it is a fixed amount, or maybe there is a separate meter installed. Also, you can ask for pricing trends for that area to know whether you can expect rent increase or decrease during the upcoming years.
Most rents are due on the first, but if you move in later than that, make sure the rent is pro-rated, meaning it is calculated according to the number of days you spend there. If you need to mail a check to a certain address, be sure to negotiate a couple of days more so you can be sure your rent is not overdue because of the postal service.
A security deposit is oftentimes mandatory in order to cover the costs of any potential damage incurred and is regulated by security deposit laws. If not spent on repairs, it may be refunded or used as the last month’s rent. Either way, it should be clearly stated in the lease. Preferably, the transaction shouldn’t be carried out in cash since it could not be shown as proof in case of litigation.
Breaking the Lease
Breaking the lease early is not a deliberate intention of any tenant before signing the contract, but you never know what tomorrow might bring. You may have to move before the end of your lease term. In case this happens, search the agreement for any kind of penalties or fines.
Decoration and Maintenance
It is only natural that you’ll want to make the space your own. However, certain landlords are reluctant to allow any changes, minor or major. Ask permission for hanging pictures or shelves on the walls, repainting or changing the tiles. If you feel your landlord hesitates when it comes to personalization, offer to restore the unit to its original state before you leave.
How to go about general and emergency repairs needs to be clearly stated as well, since these situations are often urgent and may cause considerable damage if not tended to as soon as possible. Read up on your rights as well as the property owner’s, and make sure that you have the agreement in writing.
Who is Allowed on Your Property?
If you already have a pet, or you’re considering getting one, don’t forget to ask about the pet policy. If pets are allowed, do check exactly what that means – maybe they’re restricted to certain areas or maybe some pets are out of the question.
There might be some rules on having guests as well. While some landlords do not have issues with people staying over, some will restrict the period or forbid sleepovers. On the other hand, the owners of the property are not allowed to come and go as they please either. A notice should be given before every visit which is very often regulated by law.
Other matters you might want to clear up are sub-letting and security measures. Sub-letting may or may not be ok with your landlord, but if you are part of a complex, it might also be against strata by-laws. Furthermore, check if security measures suit your needs. You can never be too careful so inquire about a CCTV camera, double door lock or even a watchman.
Remember, you’re not only choosing your future home, you’re also choosing comfort and safety. It’s well worth doing your homework before making the final decision.
About the Author: Bethany Seton is a recent economy graduate. Before settling in an office, she decided to follow her passions for writing and traveling. Currently, she travels with her laptop and writes for various blogs, hoping one day she will gather all the experience she gets in one book.
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