Tips for House-Hunting
Are you searching for an apartment or house, or for a room for rent?
Here are a few things you can do to make your search a success:
Visit the Rental, Visit the Neighborhood:
Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few places, you will want to physically
visit those places. While you tour these properties, ask the manager lots of questions - about
deposits, maintenance, neighborhood safety, the location of grocery stores and post offices, etc.
Then, take a look around the neighborhood. Are the things you want nearby? This could mean stores,
a laundry, parks, restaurants, coffeeshops, a library, public transit, or whatever you like.
Of course, you can ask the manager about these things, too, but there's nothing like walking or
driving through a neighborhood to make the distances between things clear, and to let you know
if you would enjoy living there.
Visit at Night: Most people look for apartments during the daytime.
But, before you decide to move in, try to visit the complex during
the evening, at night, and during the weekend. Many apartments look
very different when their tenants are back, or when the kids are
making all kinds of noise in the swimming pool. Or, for example, there might not be enough
lighting at night.
Be Prepared for a Credit Check: The management usually
requests a credit check on
future tenants before letting them move in. They may turn you down
if your credit is bad or if you have no credit history. If so,
you can either give them the financial information that you gave
your university, get someone to act as a co-signer, or perhaps
agree to leave a higher security deposit. And if you are prepared to discuss
your credit record, you may be able to make a better impression.
Bring Company: You will probably take a tour of the
rental with the property manager. To avoid putting yourself in
danger, you may want to find a friend to accompany you during
your apartment search.
Look at the Cars: A rough way to guess at the environment
of the property is to look at the cars parked around the complex.
Get It in Writing: If there isn't a document, then it
didn't really happen. Americans often say that "talk is cheap",
so get copies of everything in writing - especially the
rental agreement or lease. Most
importantly: Make sure you get a receipt for the security
deposit, and for every rent payment, even partial payments,
Plan Ahead: Your search could take up to several
weeks. Even when you find the right apartment, it might not
be available until a month or two
later. So plan to have enough time to search for a place to live,
to move in, and to settle down, buy furniture, and so on.
Don't forget that once the semester starts, you will be busy with
many other things.
Be Aware of Health Issues: Radon gas has been getting
a lot of attention, but did you know that many older building
still contain lead-based paint? Click here to learn more.
Find Out Their Hours First: The best time for you to
look for an apartment might be, for example, on weekends.
If so, then call ahead of time to see if the rental
office is open on weekends, or if the manager can meet you then.
Reach an Agreement About the Present Condition: When you
move out, you will have to pay for whatever damage you caused
during your stay. But in many cases the
damage might have been there before you moved in. To prevent this
problem, walk through the unit with the
property manager and have all damage (stains,
holes in the wall, broken sliding doors,
etc.) recorded in writing. Many apartments will provide a
check-list for you to fill out, on which you can record any
damage. If they don't provide a check-list, write all the
information down yourself. Either way, make sure the record
of the place's condition gets signed by both you and the
manager, and make sure both you and the manager have a copy.
By signing, the manager acknowledges that you were not
responsible for the damage. For more information, see
Rent.net's apartment inspection tips.
And, Most Importantly: Never, ever, ever assume that
a landlord or manager is honest.
Need more help? Check out
10 Tips Every Renter Needs to Know, courtesy of Rent.net!
Furnishing Your New Home