Renting a home can be a daunting task for those who are new to the process. However, it doesn't need to be be that way, especially if a prospective renter is informed about the rental process and is mindful of a few important tactics. Below are three key things that can help ensure you find the best possible rental arrangement for yourself and family:
Investigate a prospective landlord's background
Once you find a possible property to rent, it is important to look more closely at the background of your prospective landlord from several perspectives. For example, a person who has multiple bankruptcies in their past may be financially unstable, and this could jeopardize your security deposit should the money be unavailable at the end of the lease. In addition, a criminal background check might be helpful, as well. If you discover, for example, that a prospective landlord has convictions for theft, your personal property may be at-risk of being stolen.
To legally perform a background check without consent, you will need to pursue much of the information on your own rather than use a third-party. Keep in mind that bankruptcy information, along with most criminal background data, are public records, and there is no requirement for consent to comb through these records yourself.
Clarify who is responsible for expenses
A relatively-common misconception amongst prospective renters is believing that all repairs on a property will be handled by the landlord. While this is true in some cases, it is also quite common for tenants to find themselves financially responsible for maintenance and repair expenses. In other cases, the renter may not be responsible for everything but may still need to pay a set "deductible" for a given repair. For example, should a plumber be required on the premises, the renter may need to pay the first $50 of the bill. There are other expenses that may come into play, such as pest control fees, air conditioning and heating filter replacement, or septic tank pumping, so be sure to understand who will foot the bill for these, too.
If the landlord insists that tenants are financially responsible, and you are willing to agree to the terms, then also be sure to clarify whether or not you can perform work yourself in order to save money. Some landlords may be hesitant to allow unlicensed individuals to perform certain kinds of repair, such as those dealing with plumbing or electrical issues.
Understand the neighborhood dynamic
When searching for rental property, most people will take at least a cursory glance at the surrounding neighborhood. However, it is unwise to base a rental decision on limited data about the local neighborhood. While it is common to investigate local schools and crime rates, for example, certain aspects about an area are not always readily apparent. That is why you need to further explore these other characteristics about a prospective neighborhood. Here are a few that can help you make a more informed choice:
Age demographics - If you have children, it is helpful to know if there are other kids in the vicinity who might form friendships and serve as playmates. You can get a feel for this by driving around the neighborhood and observing the kids at play.
Community bond - Some communities are closer knit than others, and this can lend itself to a strong sense of spirit and pride in a locality. However, cliques can also form in certain environments, and this can make adjustment to a new area more difficult as you attempt to get to know your neighbors.
Traffic - For individuals who commute to work in a car, understanding the local traffic density is extremely helpful. Don't just rely on observations taken during the middle of the day or weekend; instead, drive on the streets during the early morning and late afternoon hours when commuters are on the road.
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