Renting a home may sound like a simpler option than buying but there are still many things one needs to look out for before signing a lease.
Many landlords and management companies still rely largely upon a standard lease form, which is a take-it-or-leave-it offer to rent often designed to protect the landlord more than the tenant.
But even if some or all of what you're about to sign may or may not be negotiable, here are 7 things to look out for before renting a house or apartment.
1. Renewal Policies
Renewal policies vary and are typically more lenient for tenants in smaller buildings. But since the inventory of available apartments is so tight nowadays, the most important consideration is to know the exact date of the lease renewal so you won’t lose your right to renew.
If your lease agreement comes with an escalation clause within a year or so, make sure you understand its interpretation in dollar terms. This way, you won’t be caught off guard with the new rental fee that is beyond your capacity to pay.
2. Utilities and Facilities
First, determine the strength of the water pressure as well as if there are any major plumbing problems.
During your visit, turn on the sink faucets and showers to see for yourself whether the water just trickles or comes out forcefully enough. Flush the toilets to also determine whether the water goes down easily or with difficulty.
As for the drinking water itself, even if the house or apartment uses a filtration system, you should at least try to drink some so you can find out if the water tastes funky or just ok. Water tastes different everywhere but a highly metallic taste or smell could indicate it runs through some bad or already corroded pipes.
Also, test out the doors and windows to determine if they are functioning properly. Check if they can shut and lock securely because your family’s basic safety depends on it.
And lastly, don’t assume just yet that you have instant right to use the outdoor space without ensuring that it is specifically mentioned in the lease. If the space becomes unusable for some reason, you won’t be entitled to rent abatement.
If your canine buddy or feline friend is part of the deal, make sure the landlord explicitly include this fact – including restrictions, if there are any – on the lease ahead of time to avoid any misunderstanding on both sides.
4. Air Conditioners
There are homes or apartments that have outdated wiring system and this can affect the number of units you can have. Make sure you bring up this matter during your discussion so you can determine how many units you need or if you have to consider other dwelling options.
Never put up anything without asking permission or being given the go-signal because you could face penalties due to safety or liability issues.
Schedule a visit over the weekends so you can judge the noise factor in the immediate surroundings. Even if heavy traffic patterns especially during rush hour might not seem to bother you at all, look out for other unreasonable noise such as children screaming non-stop, dogs barking incessantly, chronic party people next door, and even machines.
If you place high regard four your serenity and peace of mind, you don’t want to wait until after you move in to learn that you’re going to be subjected to the exact opposite.
Despite what many people believe, the tenant is never covered by the landlord’s insurance. It is therefore your responsibility to insure your own property against water damage, fire, theft, personal liability damages, and such.
7. Security Deposits
Getting your security deposit back can be a quite a struggle, especially with unreasonable landlords armed with all the delaying tactics. Make sure your lease has a provision that stipulates exactly how many days you should have back your security deposit once your apartment has passed its final inspection.