The hunt for the perfect rental can be a long process, especially if you have specific space, layout, room number, amenity, aesthetic and/or storage requirements. Even if you land a visit to a rental that offers everything you want and need, there are some other, less-glamorous aspects of the rental you should also note. Before signing the lease, ensure these few items are checked to save yourself money, headache and hassle after moving in!
Blinds. Love them or hate them, most rental units have blinds on windows and doors. Not only do they provide privacy (and eliminate the need to purchase curtains!), but they also help with temperature control. If your rental has blinds, ensure they are on all windows and doors (or at least the ones you need covered for privacy) and in working order. Test that each and every one can be opened and closed, as well as raised and lowered. Blinds can sometimes be pricey and difficult to install, so be sure any blind issues are resolved by your property manager/agency before moving in.
Appliances. It can be very easy to become smitten with a rental’s view or crown molding or granite countertops and somehow overlook that it’s missing a microwave, washer/dryer or other costly and cumbersome appliance. While many rentals provide the major kitchen appliances, it’s not uncommon to have to provide your own washer/dryer and microwave. Also take note if the rental has anything extra that you will be expected to maintain (water filtration systems pool/hot tub equipment, air purification system, etc.). Account for what all is in the unit, and factor in any costs that may affect your overall move-in budget.
Average Utility Costs. A unit’s rent may be right on target for your budget, but once utility costs are factored in, you might find yourself in over your head. So that you are very clear on your total monthly expenses before signing a lease, find out which utilities you will be responsible for, how and how often they are calculated, and what the average usage and cost is for your particular unit/layout/floor plan. Inefficient air conditioners, poorly sealed windows and outlets, leaky faucets and incorrect light bulbs are difficult to see during a walk through but can all lead to shockingly inflated utility costs come collection time.
Plus, check out our creative solutions for lowering your utility bills!
Internet/TV Permissions. While most properties are outfitted for TV and Internet these days, the offerings and specifications on what is allowed are not standard or consistent. If you have specific TV or Internet needs (because you work from home, have a current contract with a particular company or simply have preferences on speed, type of service or brand), be sure to ask what providers service the property, if dish installation is allowed and what type of high-speed options are currently installed.
History of Pets. If you are sensitive to pet hair or dander, inquire whether pets have ever lived in the unit/property (even if there is a “no pet” policy!). Good professional cleanings can often eliminate a lot of the hair, but sometimes very sensitive folks can still have issues. Beyond just allergies, however, the presence of pets can sometimes leave behind hard-to-see stains on carpeting. Ask to have the carpet inspected with a black light, and ensure any issues are recorded in order to prevent charges passing on to you when you vacate the unit.
Neighborhood. Having the worst house in the best neighborhood is one thing. Having the best house in the worst neighborhood is entirely different. Even if you find a house that is seemingly perfect, spend some time driving in and around the community at different times of day to get a true feel for the surrounding areas. Pay attention to who is outside, when and how often. Talk to neighbors about schools, street parking, crime, etc. Find out what stores are nearby, and time your travel to your most frequented destinations (work, schools, favorite stores). If the house is perfect but the neighborhood is not, you might want to keep looking!
Get to know your community using these tried-and-true tips!
Sometimes the most important aspects of a rental aren’t listed in the brochure or on the website and can easily be overlooked during a quick walk through. If you think you found the right rental, take an extra day or two to explore these six important considerations before signing on the dotted line. With these less common but nuisance items cleared, you can be sure you’ve found your perfect new home!