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Top 5 Things to Look Out For When Renting a Place

Monday, August 21, 2023

There’s no denying that owning your home gives you that special feeling of security and stability and a sense of pride. Yet, for one reason or another, you may decide that renting a place makes sense for you. Perhaps you do not want to worry about property taxes, maintenance costs, and repair bills. Or you simply like to have more flexibility when choosing where to live.  

Renting a place can be especially attractive for retirees because it allows them to downsize at the end of their lease without the hassle of selling their house. 

Before signing on the dotted line about renting a place, carefully check your home-to-be to avoid common pitfalls and ensure a satisfying living experience. There can be many things wrong with renting a place that seems appealing at first glance. Read on to find which top 5 crucial factors you must examine to make an informed decision when renting a house or an apartment.

A comfortable modern living room of an apartment ready for renting

1. What You Need to Know Before Renting a Place

Finding a place to rent can be challenging, but a good plan and thorough preparation make things easier. Start your search for a house or apartment to rent by clearly setting the following points.

  • Establish your budget. Decide what you can afford for monthly rent and other long-term expenses, such as utilities and renter’s insurance (remember, landlord’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings). Also, add once-off costs, like the security deposit, moving fees, and anything you need to buy. 
  • Understand the rental market. Research rental prices of similar properties to ensure you get a good deal.
  • Decide on the length of the lease. A lease may cover 6, 9, 12, or even 18 months, while a rental agreement is short-term, usually 30 days. Although shorter contacts give you more flexibility, longer ones mean lower rent. A lease also does not allow the landlord to increase the rental price or make other changes during the length of the contract. 
  • Consider the furniture and appliances. Long-term rentals typically come unfurnished. In most cases, you can expect the place to have amenities such as a stove, refrigerator, and perhaps a dishwasher. Some states require landlords to provide kitchen and laundry appliances, but others don’t.  
  • Choose whether you will work with a professional or on your own. A real estate agent will make the process smoother. If you want to do it yourself, start by researching online listings and be on the lookout for rental scams
  • Get your paperwork in order. Be ready to undergo background checks as part of the rental application process. Have documents confirming your sources of income, bank statements, and a photo ID. 

2. Check the Neighborhood When Renting a Place

Location is one of the primary factors to consider when renting a place. Research it thoroughly. Check whether the neighborhood is safe and secure and close to the amenities that matter to you, such as a park, gym, library, or hospital. Check if there is a pharmacy close by. Are the buildings and public space in the area well maintained? What is the noise level like? 

Also, enquire whether there is public transport within easy walking distance. If you own a car, note the availability of parking spaces. 

Ensure your new neighborhood has all amenities you need, such as a pharmacy

3. Inspect the Place to Rent

Virtual tours of the house or apartment you want to rent are convenient and valuable, but nothing replaces seeing the place to rent in person.

When touring the place you wish to rent, pay special attention to these points:

  • Floors, walls, and ceilings. The flooring should be even and in good condition. Cracks in the walls and ceilings may indicate a structural problem. Moisture and water damage can be due to roof leaks, while mold and mildew represent a health hazard. 
  • Doors and windows. Check that the door and windows are secure and adequately sealed. If not, this may represent a security issue. Poor insulation can also negatively influence the unit’s energy efficiency and increase utility costs, whether you are trying to keep the place warm or cool.
  • Utilities and appliances. The rule here is to test everything! Switch on the lights in every room, even if you are visiting in bright daylight. Wiggle the electrical outlets a little to confirm they are stable and secure. Flush the toilet and turn on the hot water taps. Ensure that the appliances provided are clean and working and that there are enough smoke detectors. 
  • Pest infestations. Look inside or on top of the cabinets to check for any traces of pests. Also, examine the walls, baseboards, and wooden beams for large cracks or holes where pests can hide. 

Thoroughly inspect the place during the viewing or on the first day after you move in. Take pictures of any damages and ask the landlord or property manager to put everything in writing so you don’t lose your security deposit when you move out.

4. Questions to Ask When Renting a Place

While inspecting the place to rent, discuss the lease terms with the landlord or agent. You may also want to cover some additional aspects, for example: 

  • How often does the rent increase? By how much? Is it possible to reduce or avoid rent increases?
  • What are the rules regarding quiet hours or pets? 
  • How old is the property? Was it refurbished recently?
  • Do you plan any repairs or renovations to the unit or common areas in the foreseeable future?
  • Does the lease renew automatically, or must you tell the landlord whether you plan to stay on? 
  • Who used to live here, for how long, and why did they move? 
  • How old are the appliances in the unit?
  • What are your pest control policies? When was your most recent pest control treatment?
  • How do tenants file a maintenance request? How long does it take to resolve maintenance issues?
  • May I paint the walls, install a burglar alarm, or make other changes to the apartment?

Have a list of questions to ask when renting a place at hand and write down the replies.

 A retired couple drinking coffee in the new place they rented

5. Scrutinize the Lease Agreement Before Renting a Place

So, you found a place to rent. It passed your inspection. You were happy with the answers you got about renting the place. However, it’s not yet time to commit by signing the contract.

First, read the lease agreement line by line. Don’t rely solely on what the landlord or their agent told you. Note down anything that you don’t understand and ask for clarification. Many tenants have been unpleasantly surprised about something that’s in their contract. For example, the return of a security deposit is often a source of conflict between landlords and tenants. If you have a pet, check the landlord’s pet policy and pet fee (if any).

To enjoy your new home, read the fine print and cover all bases.

Get Your Moving Quote From Shyft

When you’ve chosen the place to rent, you need to move your belongings there. Whether the distance is a block away or across the country, entrust Shyft with your relocation and enjoy a smooth experience.

Getting moving quotes from Shyft is quick and easy. You can complete the whole process from the comfort of your home without movers visiting you. You don’t have to worry about any pitfalls or unpleasant surprises because all movers in Shyft’s vast networks are vetted and reliable professionals. Whichever mover you choose, Shyft remains involved and oversees your relocation door-to-door.

Head to the AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft website and complete a brief form. If you prefer the sound of a human voice, dial 1-888-501-3181.

Then download Shyft’s free mobile app for iPhone or Android devices, called Shyft Next. This powerful tool will be your key to a smooth and organized relocation.

Once the app is installed, arrange a video call with a Shyft representative who will be your dedicated Move Coach and trusted advisor throughout the relocation process, making sure everything aligns with your budget and preferences.

During the 30-minute video call, give your Move Coach a virtual tour of your home and show them the items you intend to move.

You will receive your inventory list less than half an hour after the video call. The inventory list your Move Coach creates through the ShyftNext app is remarkably accurate, with a 95% success rate. You can make specific additions or removals to refine it, ensuring every detail is correct.

Once completed, the list goes to Shyft's secure bidding platform. That’s where Shyft's unique approach shines. Independent, reputable moving companies submit their best offers through Shyft's platform, guaranteeing the most competitive pricing. You'll receive three or more moving quotes, allowing you to choose a mover that suits your requirements and budget.

When you select a quote that suits you, rest assured that the price is locked-in. There will be no additional fees or unexpected charges if you don't alter the inventory, alter the distance, or miss the booking deadline.

Your dedicated Move Coach will oversee the entire relocation process from start to finish. Whichever moving company you choose, Shyft ensures you receive high-quality service. Shyft is at your service seven days a week, ready to address any queries or concerns.

As an AARP member, you're in for a treat. Enjoy up to $250 off for every move booked through Shyft, regardless of how many times and where you decide to move.

Let Shyft be your ultimate moving companion! Discover the Shyft way of moving home and experience a seamless and hassle-free relocation.

Get Free Moving Quotes