Rental checklist: 9 things to look for in a property
Before signing the lease, go through this checklist to see if the rental is the right fit for you.
Searching for rentals is not the same as house hunting. Maybe you are not ready to buy a family home, you are living on your own or with roommates, a rental still has the potential to become a home – if the landlord and the property are the right fit. Whether it’s a house or an apartment, visiting rental listings has its own checklist.
Here is what to look for in a rental before signing the lease:
1. The neighbourhood
The property can be a dream come true, but the neighbourhood might have more than one problem. Don’t commit to a rental without researching the area first. Look for nearby amenities, access to transportation, level of crime, schools and more before jumping into a lease.
2. The appliances and detectors
All appliances should be included in the lease agreement. Don’t be shy of turning on burners, checking the fridge, and testing the laundry machine while you are touring. But your priority should be the smoke and monoxide detectors. They are a legal requirement in every unit.
3. Door and windows
Door and windows need to work correctly – for obvious reasons. The locks keep your home secure and the cold weather out. If they don’t close and open properly, the freezing cold from the winter months will get in the house!
Double check for emergency exits as well. There should be more than one exit and windows should be big enough to crawl through.
4. The plumbing
Believe it or not, plumbing is a big factor when deciding to rent or not. Flush the toilet, test for hot and cold water, run all the taps, be on the lookout for leaks and brown water and check the water pressure, especially in the shower. Imagine moving in and not being able to take a well-deserved shower.
5. The electrical outlets
Here is a good trick: Bring your phone charger with you and check all electrical outlets. Do they work properly? Are there in the most convenient places?
6. Air conditioning and heating
We all know the weather can go to extremes in both winter and summer. You must be prepared for whatever it throws at you with a good AC and heating system. Ask your landlord for a monthly estimate of the utilities depending on the season.
7. The maintenance
Walk around the property and see if anything needs to be repaired or updated before you move in. Inspect all components of the rental (walls, floors, ceilings, etc.) and look for holes, stains, mould, odours or anything that needs cleaning. If your future landlord agrees to fix or clean anything, get it writing. This is not the time to trust someone else’s word.
Any maintenance issues can turn into bigger problems and your landlord might ask for you to pay up if damages are not covered in the lease. This is just one of the reasons why you need tenant insurance. You’re lucky you can get a tenant insurance quote in four simple steps.
A property that needs extensive repairs is a red flag. It could tell how the landlord works and the kind of tenant he expects (one who doesn't care about maintenance). Not a bad idea to look for other options.
8. The noise level
In rentals with thin walls, tenants can suffer from high noise levels. Your neighbours can be loud during the day or night whether it’s in their own unit or in the hallway.
9. The lease
Your lease is what binds you legally to the rental property and to your landlord. Review it carefully. More than once. Know the conditions of your agreement like the back of your hand and if you don’t like something be ready to negotiate. Everything must be in order before you sign. Your lease should include:
Your name (the tenant) and your landlord’s
The date the lease begins and the duration of the contract
Rent payments with their due dates and what they include (rent, utilities, parking, use of appliances etc.).
If any services will be provided by your landlord (snow removal, garden maintenance, painting, etc.).
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