A Guideline to Follow in Helping You Find the Right Rental Property for You

Finding a rental home-whether it is an apartment, multi-family home, or a house-can be quite difficult. There are so many factors to consider, including price range and location. But aside from that, there is often a time frame in which you have to work due to the ending of your lease at your previous home. That time frame adds a lot of pressure to what is already a very stressful endeavor. To make the process of finding a rental home a little bit easier, follow the guideline below.

Determine your moving date. Figure out when your current lease is ending and decide when you need to move. Starting to look at properties before knowing when you are moving is not going to work because some properties may not be ready by the time you need to move.

Decide on a price range. Look at your finances and decide what you can afford to pay for rent. Be honest with yourself and come up with an absolute figure-vow not to look at properties that cost more than that amount.

Consider location. To what locations are you willing to move? Is there only one side of town that you like, or are you open to looking at properties in a few neighboring cities? Look at an area map to help you decide. You can even call the city police to inquire about crime rates in certain neighborhoods.

After you have the date, price, and location(s) determined, then you can begin to think about the specifics of your future rental home.

What type of home do you want? Are you looking for a house? Or will you consider a multi-family home, such as a duplex or triplex? If you want an apartment, do you want it to be in an apartment complex or building? Or, would you rather have a one-of-a-kind apartment, maybe one that is a section of a house?

How you answer the question above will determine exactly where you look for your rental home. Apartments and houses are listed separately in the newspaper and online. Multi-family homes are usually listed under apartments, though that isn’t always the case.

Once you have decided on the type of home that you want, think about other specifics that may be important to you.

How much space do you need? Do you want one bedroom, two bedrooms, or more? Is it important to you that there is a dining room? Many apartments have a dine-in kitchen area instead of a separate dining room.

Is outdoor space important? If you are looking for an apartment, do you require one that has a balcony or porch? Or, if you want a house or multi-family home, is the size of the lawn important to you?

Do you have a pet? Many rentals do not allow pets; some allow small pets such as fish or birds. So, if you already have a beloved cat or dog, your search for a rental property may end up being more difficult. Keep this in mind ahead of time and you won’t get frustrated.

Do you need appliances? Most apartment complexes or buildings have refrigerators and stoves in their units; some have dishwashers. With any other type of home, appliances may or may not be included. You will have to ask if the advertisements do not mention appliances.

What about a washer/dryer hookup? If you already own a washer and dryer, you aren’t likely to want to move to an apartment building that only offers a shared coin laundry area-you would want an apartment with its own washer/dryer hookup area inside. Or, if you are looking for a house or multi-family home, you might decide that you would prefer to have the washer/dryer hookup on the main floor instead of in the basement.

Is parking an issue? Do you need a garage? Or is a driveway sufficient? What if there is just on-street parking-will that work for you? Many apartment complexes or buildings simply have a large parking lot. Is that alright for you?

Are there any special circumstances you need to consider? Health issues would be one possible consideration; for example, if you have a back problem you may require a rental place that doesn’t have stairs. Another possible circumstance would be if you run a business out of your home-in that case, you may need an extra room, separate and away from the bedrooms.

All of the above questions and considerations could be answered by either looking at an advertisement and/or a phone call. If you find a rental that seems to meet all of your qualifications, based on the criteria above, then arrange to view the rental. While you are viewing the rental, be sure to check out the following (aside from making sure that it does, indeed, meet all of your criteria):

Fire alarms and extinguisher: Rentals should have an extinguisher in the kitchen and a fire alarm on each level of the home.

Security: Check to make sure that all of the doors and windows close and lock securely. While you are at it, make sure that the windows have screens in them.

Safety: All stairs and steps should have hand railings. If they don’t, ask the landlord if he will install them.

Cleanliness: Carpets, floors, and walls should be clean. Check inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets to make sure they aren’t full of dust and debris. The bathroom should be especially clean.

Door size: Will your belongings fit through the doorways? This is an important consideration that many people forget. Many rentals are older and may have odd-sized doorways, so be sure to check.

Landlord: Does he seem conscientious? Does it look like he genuinely cares about his property? This is a good indication of how he will be once you have moved in, so go with your gut…if he seems rather nonchalant and doesn’t seem to know too much about his rental, he may not be too available if you need him later on.

If you find a property that meets all of your criteria and passes all of your checks when you view it, then you only have one thing to decide: is that the one or do you want to keep looking? Sometimes you might find a rental that seems to meet all of your considerations, but you still want to do a little more looking to see if you can find one that is just a little bit better. If not, if this is the one, then all you need to do is talk to the landlord to find out what he requires. Some require a simple application; others might require an application fee with a credit check. Whatever it is, fill it out, cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Searching for a rental property may take time and perseverance, but as long as you are organized and know what you want before you begin looking you will find yourself a lot less stressed. Good luck!

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