|Renting a home is often a economic option for people who wish to live in a house rather than an apartment but can't afford to buy one. For many home renters, it is their first experience being the primary tenant in a house rather than a smaller rental space. Knowing what to look for in a home rental can be difficult for newcomers. This guide will explain what to ask the landlord when moving into a rental home.
The difference between buying and renting
When renting a home, your priorities are a bit different than if you were purchasing a home. Renting is almost always cheaper than buying a home. You also can't sell the home when you move out. Because of this, you may not choose to rent your dream house, but look for an affordable space that you can enjoy living in for the time being.
As a renter, you won't need to be as picky as you might be if you were purchasing a home. Here are a few places where renters can be less picky than buyers:
- The home can be older. You probably won't be living in a rented house long term or selling it, so age doesn't mean too much. The landlord should take care of repairs.
- There are no frills. Ideally you would want to live in a home with a huge backyard and that swimming pool you've always wanted, but if you are renting a home and not planning to stay more than a few years, it doesn't make sense to pay for these expensive extras.
- It is not aesthetically perfect. A rented home is not your home. It wasn't built for you and you are not the owner. Chances are you are not going to like everything about its appearance. If you try to choose the ideal home for you when renting, you may have difficulty finding a landlord whose tastes match yours exactly.
If you do plan on renting long term, you can be more selective in the previous mentioned areas. Rentals are generally shorter term investments, but more and more people are renting longer as homes become less affordable for the average buyer. If you plan to live in a home for more than a few years, then you should treat the rental as a purchase and be as picky as you want to be. Just remember that you still can't sell your rented home.
Important factors for renting a home
When renting a home, there are several important things to consider, even if it is for a short-term rental.
- Location: When moving anywhere, the location of the home is important. You want to get to where you work and play easily from where you live. You also want to live in a place that is safe enough to satisfy your concerns. Living in a dangerous neighbourhood is rarely worth the often lower rent that comes with it.
- Price: You are probably renting a home to save money, so it wouldn't make sense to overpay. Make sure the lease you sign has all the details of what you will be paying versus what that landlord will pay, such as utilities. There can be several hidden charges in a lease, so be sure to ask plenty of questions before signing.
- Space: Even if you plan on living in a home temporarily, it still needs to to fit your needs. Many first time home renters split the cost of the house by renting with roommates. It is important to not underestimate the amount of space needed for several people to live together. Most homes are substantially bigger than apartments, so the fact that you are renting a home may mean you need more space. Be sure to understand how much space you and your roommates need before choosing a home to rent.
- Up to code: You can be less picky when renting, but the home still needs to pass inspection to be safe. That means it needs to be structurally sound, have hot and cold running water, no leaks in the plumbing, working electricity, no fire hazards, and good heating and cooling. This is the same as any home inspection.
Questions to ask your landlord before signing the lease
Some things about your rental home will not be readily apparent during an inspection. With home rentals, the landlord won't be as available as he would be if you were renting in an apartment building where he lives (or has a property manager to handle problems). That's why it is important to know his policies when signing the lease. Ask your landlord about these issues:
After some consideration, you should be able to find a suitable home to rent. Once you're ready to move in, hire a mover to get yourself living in your rented home.
- Pests: Is there a history of infestation in your home? How often will the house be serviced and who is paying for it? You need to get this straight since sometimes a landlord will blame the renter for an infestation.
- Appliance service: Some landlords include service on broken appliances with your rent. Some won't. Ask about this ahead of time to know if you need to spend money on a handyman yourself when the refrigerator breaks.
- Home repairs: If there is a leak in the plumbing or a crack in the ceiling, what do you do? Home service is different from appliance service, so make sure you ask your landlord about the plan if anything should happen to the home. Usually it is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the home's functions, but if he feels that you've caused the problem, you could be in trouble.
- Any other rules or policies: Landlords can make up almost any rule they want. Ask what you're allowed to do. Can you put up decorations? How about a basketball hoop? Can you invite several friends over? All of this seems relatively benign, but some landlords may object to any of it.
- Parking restrictions: If the home is in an urban area, you may need to ask about parking. Is it included in the rent? Where is your spot? Where can guests park?