Finding the perfect rental these days takes more than just a Google search or a quick peruse in the paper to find a new home that will fit your needs.
More often than not, these tactics can land you in a place you don’t feel happy calling home–and that is if you manage to avoid all the rental listing scams out there.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad and while discovering that ideal abode may require some patience and pre-planning, it’s entirely worth it in the end. Just be sure to avoid these common rental search mistakes that can land you in a terrible rental situation.
Forget Budgeting Details
No one wants to end up in a rental that they resent. Not all bad rental situations are due to creepy neighbors, damaged buildings, or bad landlords. Securing a rental that you can’t truly afford will lead to a stressful lease term and a terrible rental experience. This is why budgeting well is key.
Avoid looking at listings you will simply not be able to afford; crunch the numbers to see what you can really manage from month-to-month. Experts advise that a renter spend 30% of the take-home pay on housing, including the utilities. To feel very sure of your budget plans use a rent calculator to see how much you can afford. Keep in mind any extras like saving for a home or new car, or any other large expenses you may have in the near future.
Take into consideration important factors like utilities and the cost of living in the areas that you are looking. If you have a particular home or apartment in mind, some power companies will tell you the average utility bill in the summer and the winter for a specific address.
Don’t Explore the Neighborhood Beforehand
A surefire way to end up in a terrible rental situation is to avoid any extra research. Yes, it may be a lot of work to become a detective, but in order to find a rental you love, you will need to ensure that you’re not faced with unpleasant surprises in the future.
Visit the neighborhood for a prospective rental, and don’t forget to visit at different times of the day or week. A home that seemed serene during the open-house, can be deceiving if the noisy neighbors were not yet home from work. Landing yourself in a rental with bad neighbor problems is not something you want to do simply because you didn’t do a little extra sleuthing before signing the lease.
Avoid Detective Work
Speaking of the lease, this is another area where you could land yourself in hot water if you don’t pay attention to the details or ask questions. Be certain you understand what utilities you would be responsible for, and even ask how they are calculated. Some apartments calculate utilities based on a shared water bill, which is important to note if you’re looking to save money by taking shorter showers. Remember, a terrible rental situation doesn’t have to mean the unit is falling apart at the seams… it can simply be a lot of unexpected small issues that add up to create an unpleasant living situation.
There’s no doubt about it, the rental market is tight. Finding your dream apartment can seem impossible, and even simply finding a great rental at a reasonable price can seem a little far-fetched with such a competitive market. With this in mind, it’s important to avoid seeming unprofessional. You may find yourself stuck with limited options and in a terrible rental if you don’t put your best foot forward from the start.
Show that you are a responsible and tidy renter, by treating a walkthrough like it is a job interview. Stand out from other prospective renters by having a renter resume and pet resume prepared, and by simply appearing clean and tidy. Don’t forget about your vehicle’s appearance as well, the way that you treat your car can be reflective of the way that you may treat a rental property… no landlord wants to imagine their rental covered in fast food wrappers and abandoned gym clothes.
Don’t Converse with the Landlord
A poor landlord-tenant relationship is probably the number one reason that renters find themselves hating where they live. Avoid a terrible rental situation by simply having a real conversation with the landlord before anyone decides to enter into a lease agreement. Walkthroughs and phone conversations may be a way for a landlord to assess a potential tenant, but they can also serve as a way for you to gauge the tone of your future relationship with a landlord or manager. You will likely have at least a few moments to speak with the landlord before closing the deal, and if so, utilize those conversations to their fullest. Ask the landlord questions about how they respond to emergency repairs, or if they have any repairs on their radar for the unit.
These answers can shed light on their future dealings with you should you become a resident. Conduct a mental interview of sorts. In every interaction with the potential landlord, ask yourself if you are ready and willing to work with this person for years to come. Afterall, you do not need to be best friends with your landlord, but you will be in contact long-term and should feel that they have their tenants’ best interests in mind.
It can be all-too-easy to land in a terrible rental situation if you are not vigilant during your rental search. Finding the ideal rental might require a little extra legwork, a few compromises and even a dash of luck, but there are few better feelings than the sigh of relief that comes when you have moved into the perfect place for your needs.
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