What to Look for When Renting a House

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Making the move from living in an apartment to living in a house is an exciting time, even if you will be renting your new home. Don't let the excitement cloud your judgment when it comes to choosing a house. Take the time to consider your needs prior to beginning the search for a new home to prevent wasting your valuable time making trips to view houses that simply won't meet your needs, even if they are in stellar condition.

  • Make a list of the things you absolutely must have in your new home. The number of bedrooms may be an obvious need, but consider other often overlooked items. If a separate laundry room is important to you, write it down. If you have young children, then windows facing the play area are a real need. Think about what is really important to you and your family and write it down.

  • Evaluate your finances and determine the amount you can afford to spend on rent for your new home. Set a price range that you can comfortably work with.

  • Begin viewing homes once you have completed your list and set your price range. Look for potential problems, even if the house looks great. Watch for signs of a leaky roof by inspecting the ceilings and tiles carefully. Water stains are a sure sign that the roof has leaked at some point in the past.

  • Check plumbing by looking under the sink for any signs of leaks. Check the pipes that run through the basement for rust or mildew stains. Examine the area around tubs and toilets for any water damage to the floor or walls.

  • Ask to see the circuit breaker for the home and keep your eyes open for any loose or tattered wiring. Check switches and outlets to see that they work properly before making a final decision. Ask to try out the furnace and air conditioning. Examine the duct work for any signs of loose or worn joints.

  • Research the neighborhood to find out what the crime rate is. Check the ratings for the schools if you have children. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to observe the typical neighborhood activities. Don't forget to make a late night drive through. What appears to be a peaceful and quiet neighborhood during the day may change drastically later in the day.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are not comfortable with assessing the plumbing and wiring of the home, take a friend with you who is.
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