Finding a rental can be difficult, for the most part, you are unsure of many things. One way to navigate your uncertainties is to consider a few things to help you figure out what you truly want in a home. These considerations will help you define your expectations and work toward them when finding a rental.
Here are a few things you should do to make the best choice and get a place you won’t regret.
Determine Your Budget
Find out how much rent you can reasonably afford. Your income level should inform this. What is your annual income, including all wages, dividends, interest, assistance, and other sources? Most families spend roughly 60% of their income on the basics, which include housing, transportation, and food.
Also factor in that you'll need money for unexpected costs, savings, retirement, credit card bills, insurance, entertainment, and everything else that comes up every month. After doing the math, you'll have a good idea of how much money you'll need and how it won't put you in a bind.
Find Out Your Desired Location
When searching for a new rental, keep in mind that it's important to select a home close to whatever you do outside the house. For instance, how close it is to your place of employment and the other things you enjoy.
How accessible is the area on foot? Does a public transit system exist? And if you have children, do you want to know if the neighborhood has decent schools or whether there are any colleges or universities nearby? Your current situation will determine what you view as desirable.
Other factors to take into account are strong population growth, minimal crime, attractive rental price averages, low unemployment, and a sizable proportion of the population renting.
Consider Renters Insurance
According to Eddie Martini, the Strategic real estate investment advisor at Real Estate Bees. No landlord's policy is going to offer coverage for the replacement cost of rebuilding the structure and is a wall-out coverage type. That means from the interior walls to the outside of the property will be repaired/replaced in the event of a loss claim being filed by the landlord.
For a tenant to have insurance coverage for their possessions, they will need to obtain a renters policy which is a wall-in coverage type, meaning anything hanging on the walls and floors and anything in between (artwork, furniture, appliances, electronics) would be covered up to their policy limits.
As such, he emphasizes the importance of itemizing any high-valued items and noting them on a renter's policy as the policy will only pay out to the policy limits in the event of a total loss.
“For most,” he adds,” the standard limits are sufficient but some tenants have acquired higher-end artwork and furnishings, etc., and if they want to make sure they would be replaced or compensated in the event of a loss they would need to get that in writing with their issuing agent/carrier.” Some landlords will require you to have one. Typically, the standard limits can be rather inexpensive.
Inspection and Documentation
Martha Gaffney, Strategic Real Estate Advisor at Real Estate Bees and a licensed real estate broker notes that virtual tours are very common these days, especially after Covid. But warns: “Please be aware that if you view the home via Facetime, Zoom, or any other virtual tour option and sign a lease, it is final.” She advises that you make it a point to fly in person or pick a broker you know you can trust when doing these video tours.
Martini suggests that a virtual inspection may suffice if all parties involved are present and everything is thoroughly documented in a video. A virtual inspection should be done with the landlord and or property manager present whether on video. And this should be done at the time of key exchange.
“Documenting where the equipment is, and what the present condition is as sometimes the equipment can fail and knowing what condition it was from the outset can give the tenant better odds of not being held liable for any damage to such equipment,” Martini said.
“This video documenting can be a service offered by a leasing agent to the tenant and or the landlord. So that there is evidence that they were present during the inspection and they are present when you discover an existing issue. This also allows video documentation of a pre-existing condition and allows you and the landlord/property manager to address who is responsible for repairs.”
Also great to capture in these videos, he mentions, are any agreed credits such as a discount in rent if the tenant maintains parts of the property. The same principle should apply when walking through the entire property in person to document its present condition and identify any pre-existing issues
Be Aware of What Your Responsibilities Are
Gaffney says that if you are in NY state and are looking for a long-term lease, know that a landlord can only ask you for the first month's rent and security deposit upfront and no more than that except for a broker fee.
Pet fees are also not allowed anymore. Always ask what utilities you are responsible for.
Before you commit to an apartment, ask as many questions as you need to determine whether this is the right home for you. A few common questions to ask are:
- Is there a parking fee?
- How long do maintenance orders take to complete?
- What’s included in the cost of rent?
- Are there income requirements?
- What are their pet policies?
Some apartment complexes allow pets and others don’t. If you want to get a pet soon or bring your pet from another home, you’ll need to ensure your complex allows pets.
Also, apartments that allow pets, may have policies that prohibit certain breeds, such as bully breeds, which is essential information if you have one of those dogs.
Take Your Time
Finding the perfect home takes time, and it’s never necessary to rush unless your current lease is coming to an end and you haven’t found a home yet. Go through the complex and the apartment to ensure it’s somewhere you’d enjoy living if you have the time.
Feel free to spend as much time as you like before you decide to put down a deposit. However, be aware that apartments in cities go quickly, so you could lose your opportunity if you take too long.
Some apartments will look perfect online and in person, but if the complex has poor management, you might end up hating your living situation. For example, suppose maintenance requests take months to be addressed. In that case, you could face anything from minor irritations to significant problems if an important appliance, such as your washing machine, breaks down.
You can learn about the apartment from actual tenants or past tenants by reading reviews. Make sure to read both the positive and negative reviews to get an idea about the types of behavior you can tolerate for your landlord and what’s non-negotiable.
Be Prepared to Compromise
Depending on your budget, you might have to compromise on amenities and space. As you know, the better and larger the apartment, the more expensive it will be to rent. Additional amenities like on-site laundry, pools, and a gym can raise your rent prices even more.
If you have a small budget, you’ll have to compromise on some features of an apartment, including space. However, you can still love your apartment even though it’s not exactly what you wanted.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like Buttonwood Tree and FinanceBuzz in the past and currently writes for Wealth of Geeks.