How to Find the Perfect Rental
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5 questions to ask to prevent stress down the road when trying to find the perfect rental.
When you are renting a property, rather than buying, the criteria during your search are slightly different. Instead of thinking long term, you need to be thinking about the immediate future and, as you won’t be able to make substantial changes, the finish is important. Some planning and education on your part will make this financial decision easier to handle. And using these 5 questions will alleviate a ton of the stress that can potentially come up afterwards when you’re trying to find the perfect rental.
Before you do anything, you will need to make sure that the property is sound and you get on with either the landlord or the leasing agent. This is vital because once you’re in, these are the main things that you will not be able to change. And, since you are relying upon the landlord or letting agent to deal with problems like faulty boilers or damage, you’ll need to know that someone will be with you as soon as possible. When a problem needs to be remedied asap, you need to know it will happen.
You should also look at the interior of the property and decide whether it is to your taste or not. Some landlords are quite flexible about you making changes but others aren’t. How long you are planning to stay may also factor into this. If you are just looking for a quick month rental, you can be much more forgiving about a property interior than if you plan to stay for several years.
Is the Property Sound?
The first question you should really ask about any property is whether it is sound or not. A sound property won’t have any damp, will be well constructed with no leaks or gaps, and doesn’t have any glaring structural problems. If the property does have any of these issues you should walk away immediately. It will not be worth your time or hassle to deal with.
There a few other things you should think about as well. A sound property will be clean and bright and, importantly, shouldn’t smell at all. If there is an overpowering scent of air freshener or potpourri, be wary. You should pay a little more attention while you walk around as it may be covering something nasty. Feel free to run your hands along the walls to check for damp if you suspect it may be there but can’t see it.
Is the Landlord or Leasing Agent Easy to Talk to?
If you are happy with the quality of the building, the next question is whether you can talk to the landlord or leasing agent easily. This is important because this is who will be solving any issues that arise while you live there. An attentive landlord or agent will be keen to keep you happy while trying to find the perfect rental, especially if you are on a rolling monthly contract, so make sure you get on with them on the viewing.
Having a leasing agent is sometimes a slightly easier route as they may be more on the ball than a private landlord. However, this isn’t always true so do take the time to get to know who you are dealing with. Do a bit of research on the leasing agency to find out what sort of reputation they have before you go and look at the property. Obviously, you should avoid any leasing agency with a poor reputation but do take reviews with a pinch of salt.
Is the Interior to Your Taste?
Once you have established the most basic things, you should turn your attention to the interior. Many rented properties, particularly in city centres can be quite small, so it is important that the flow of the property is logical. In houses that have been split into apartments, this might take a little imagination, but as long as there aren’t any really weird things, keep an open mind.
Modern buildings tend to be decorated quite sparingly and are often quite easy to move straight into. However, older buildings do have their charm and can be quite forgiving if they are done nicely. If you already have your furniture, measure the interiors to make sure that it will fit. And will fit through the door! Taking these measurements now will make it much simpler later on.
The vast majority of properties for rent are done in fairly neutral colors so that you can put your own personal stamp on the place with accessories. However, some properties are not neutral colors. You may need to think carefully about whether you can live with the colors that are there. Some landlords are happy for their tenants to make some changes. But you will need to ask first and always get their terms in writing.
Will You Be Allowed to Make Any Changes?
If you are signing a long term contract, you should always ask whether you will be able to make any changes. Simple changes like repainting the interior will probably not be a problem. Most landlords are fine with neutral colors as long as you agree to repaint before you leave.
Sometimes a house for rent comes with a garden, you may wish to make some changes here. Whether you are allowed to or not is a decision your landlord will have to make. Plus, it may be that you’ll have a gardener who comes to the property to maintain it anyway. The best thing to do here is to make a plan of what you would like to do. Then present it to the landlord so they decide whether to let you go ahead or not.
It’s very unlikely that you will be allowed to make any structural changes. And, since you are only going to be living here on a short term basis, it may not be worth you spending the money on someone else’s property. However, if you are planning to stay a long time, it might be worth making some suggestions to your landlord and even splitting the cost. This way you get to live in the property you really want for a long time. And they benefit from a much more logical layout.
Also keep in mind storage for things and closet space. Organizing a closet later can get challenging if you’re not allowed to add any shelving needed. Some landlords are perfectly find adding things like this into the contract, but make sure all agreements are in writing.
Is the Furniture Included?
Many rentals are shown with furniture, or staged. It’s important that you clarify what is included and what isn’t. Sometimes the furniture is just there to give you an idea of what your rental could look like. It’s a bit like a showroom.
If the furniture is included, you should definitely try it out. Open cupboards, sit on sofas and try the bed – all assuming there isn’t a current tenant living there! If the furniture isn’t to your taste, do say so. And ask whether the landlord would be willing to rent the property without the furniture. This might be a problem, especially if the landlord is looking for a quick rent. But it could be a good move for everyone.
Taking the furniture that is there is usually a good idea if you don’t own your own or you are only looking for a short rent. There’s no point spending a lot of money getting all new stuff just to move out again soon. Instead, wait until you are in your ‘forever home’ and save the money while you can.
Rental properties are great for short and long term stays. But are also perfect for anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of a mortgage or is saving up to get on the property ladder. Getting the most for your money is key to ensure that you can still save while you rent. So think carefully about where you compromise and where you dig your heels in.
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