Finding a Rental Home Tips
Read these 15 Finding a Rental Home Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Rental Home tips and hundreds of other topics.
Some of the Terms in Houses for Rent Ads Are Confusing. What Are Some That I Should Know?
It is important to learn as much about the “language” of apartments and houses for rent as possible. Knowledge is power and often the more of one you have, the more of the other you get. While the full language of real estate can sometimes be daunting, there are some basic terms that will help you understand the words and phrases that you often see in newspaper and Internet homes for rent notices. Here are some that could help you.
The above-listed tip is for informational use only. Always read entire specific documents and language before executing any contract or agreement.
- Rent and/or lease. These terms have little differentiation in true definition, but are often used in apartment and house ads a bit differently. When you search for rental homes that are for “lease,” the landlord is sometimes looking for a longer term of occupancy than stating that the house is for “rent.” Rent can be used to refer to a shorter occupancy term, as in “month-to-month” oral or written agreements, which typically automatically renew every month until one party or the other (landlord or tenant) decides to terminate the arrangement. Lease often refers to written agreements designed to last longer than one year.
- Sublease. If the ad notes that this property is a sublease or being "sublet," it typically means you will be renting the home from another renter who cannot or will not complete the terms of his/her existing lease agreement. The owner/landlord, through the terms in the original lease or in another agreement, has allowed the current renter to re-lease the property to another. Make sure you get a copy of the original lease agreement since you will also be bound by the terms in this contract.
- Loft. Very popular in the 21st century, lofts can be wonderful, but they are not for everyone. Originally designed for the conversion of older mill or manufacturing buildings, they are now being constructed from the ground up in many areas. Tending to have high ceilings and large windows, they can be spectacular. However, they typically have a totally open floor plan without traditional “rooms,” with areas being defined as living, kitchen, bedroom, etc. by placement of furniture. This layout can suit single or “couples” renters to perfection. A family with children, however, may not find it useful.
- Duplex. Depending on the location, when you find a home that is a duplex, it may mean two residences with one common wall attached side-by-side. It may also mean the houses for rent are stacked on top of each other, often called a “two-family.” You may also see the term “triplex” or even “fourplex,” which define the number of attached homes for rent.
- Rent-to-own (lease option to purchase). When you see this term, the landlord wants to sell his/her property. When you search for rental homes and see this phrase, there will typically be a rental price and an additional amount that will be applied to your “down payment” for a future purchase of the property. Should you be interested in this home, be aware the agreement will normally be somewhat more complex than a standard lease arrangement. The agreement will typically include purchase language and other terms of the application of a percentage of the rent you pay that will go toward your down payment.
What Are Some Suggestions to Conduct an Internet Search for Homes for Rent?
The emergence of the Internet has saved thousands of people time, money, and frustration when they search for rental homes. While it's relatively easy to find houses for rent, finding the right home for you and your family is a bit more challenging. The number of choices you might have depends on your tastes and needs. Here are some suggestions to make your Internet search easier and more effective.
- Have a good idea of what you want. Do you prefer a home with a single floor or multi floors? How many bedrooms and baths would you like? Do you need a home office, playroom, formal dining room, large storage area, etc.? Set a range for the amount of rent you're prepared to pay. Once you have this specific mental picture, you can narrow your search to find a home through the Internet.
- Use an excellent “homes for rent” website to get answers to questions, become more knowledgeable, and receive other assistance to improve your search for rental homes that fit your needs.
- Once you find homes for rent that fit your wish list, act! The more extensive or exotic your desires, the faster you should act when you find one or more houses for rent that fit your needs. Better homes for rent tend to be taken and off the market faster than homes for sale. By using the Internet to search for that apartment and house for rent will be much faster and more efficient than spending hours on the telephone, reading newspapers, or driving around. But many others may be using this same technique. Contact the real estate broker or owner as soon as you find a home you believe would be right for you.
What Should I Know Before I Put My Property in a “Houses for Rent” Database?
If you've decided to become a landlord, you should know some basics before you put your property in a “Houses for Rent” database. The most important general rule: Treat this activity as a business, not a hobby, a game, a casual interest, etc. You should commit yourself to operating a “homes for rent” business.
Should you have any friends, family members, or associates who have acted as landlords in the past, ask them about the good, the bad, and the ugly of rentals in their experience. You will, no doubt, hear some interesting stories. And, don't get discouraged if some things appear less than enjoyable. Operating a successful business is seldom always easy, but often rewarding.
Have a mini-business plan. You should have a plan on how to operate your new venture into the houses for rent market. At a minimum, consider the following:
- Examine the market to set the right rental price for your property. You already know your monthly obligation for mortgage, taxes, and insurance for your property. But you must determine what a true “market rent” should be. By comparing your property with other homes for rent in your area, you'll get a good idea of the amount you can request.
- Make a decision about how long you plan to rent your property. Develop a game plan for your new business. Is becoming a landlord a short-term proposition? Are you going to rent your property only until the housing market recovers from a slump? Or, are you planning to rent the property long-term and possibly acquire other houses for rent? Is this a business or retirement strategy that you plan to continue? It doesn't really matter what your plan states – just that you have one.
- Understand that you'll need some type of “fund” to be available for repairs and/or emergencies. Don't underestimate the importance of this factor. Murphy's Law (anything than can go wrong, will go wrong, always at the wrong time) may rear up and bite you at any time. If you're fortunate to be rather “handy” and good with small repairs or improvements, you'll likely save some money. However, big projects are a) best left to professionals, and b) will have some cost attached.
- Have a marketing strategy that you believe will work. The days of simply placing a “House for Rent” sign in your front yard are effectively over. Sure, it can work if your neighbors have family or friends who might want to live in the neighborhood. But, should that not be reality, you're staring at a monthly cost offset by no income. Develop a strategy that gives your home good exposure, possibly including notifying local real estate brokers and choosing one or more well visited databases, using digital pictures of the exterior and interior of your home to show off its features.
- Learn how to qualify your prospective tenants. Once you have one or more interested potential renters, qualify/screen them. You want a tenant that will hopefully pay the rent when due, take care of your property, and stay for a term matching your wishes. A credit check, background investigation, and employment verification would be very helpful.
What Are Some Effective Ways to Find the Property I Want in the Homes for Rent Llistings?
Looking through an active "Homes for Rent" section of a newspaper or online database can become a bit confusing at times. Instead of throwing up your hands and looking for a nice large refrigerator box to occupy, here are a few suggestions to simplify and improve your search to find the right apartment and house for rent.
You're probably aware of the three most important rules of looking of real estate:
These rules apply to an effective search for rental homes, too. Decide on one or more areas in which you'd like to live. Whether for work commuting, closeness to family, or other reasons, try to narrow your search to just a few geographic areas or even neighborhoods.
Further narrow your search to find rental homes right for you by completing the following brief checklist:
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- How many bathrooms do you want?
- What is your monthly rental price range?
- How many “floors” do you want?
- When do you want to move?
- How long do you plan to occupy?
- Do you need to find homes for rent that are pet-friendly?
If you use the local newspaper, you may encounter some frustration. While you may be able to narrow the location, since many ads are grouped by city, town, area, etc., you may have to read many ads which do not apply to the results of your checklist. Using the Internet and excellent websites, like Rentals.com, give you much faster and better results.
You'll have the ability to narrow your search using data from your checklist and often view digital pictures and/or videos of actual houses for rent. You'll find a house you like quickly and feel much more comfortable about your final choices.
Sometimes former landlords will be able to help you rentals in your neigbhorhood or your city. Many landlords advertise on national websites and can recommend a good online resource. Landlords also may belong to national trade associations. You never know who people know, so network and let people you know, meet and talk to that you are looking for a rental home.
Try to walk around the neighborhood you are considering, or do a virtual walk-around by investigating the neighborhood online. The more time you spend learning the neighborhood the more you will be able to decide if it is the right one for you. If possible, talk to people you meet and let them know you are looking for an apartment or house for rent in the neighborhood and see what suggestions they offer. Email or call local rental property agents you find online. They may not only offer you advice and help, but often have additional unadvertised listings for rent.
What should I look for in my new rental?
When trying to find a new rental home, you will want to make sure you rent in a location that you feel safe and you will enjoy living. You will also want to consider parking, whether you will have to fight for street parking, park in a parking garage miles away, or if you have a driveway or pre-determined parking spot to drive into. Before renting your rental house, take a look at all the features of the rental you will be using daily and if they will become a nuisance with your everyday living in the rental.
How much of my salary should I spend on rent?
When you are looking for a rental home, it is important to not get locked into a lease that you can't afford. Before starting your home rental search, figure out what you can comfortably afford for rent per month. The standard rule of thumb is to not spend more than 30% of what you take home per month. When you are looking for a rental home, be aware of what is in your budget and try and find the best rental that fits your requirements and your budget.
How can I start to find a rental home?
Thanks to the Internet and message boards, there are several different methods you can use when seeking a rental home. It is a good idea to dabble in a few different ways to figure out the best way that works for you. You can look in the local newspaper papers, contact real estate agents, look on the Internet for listings, ask around your neighborhood, check the board at a local super market or dry cleaners, ask your friends and relatives all have worked to help find people a rental home. Start letting people know you are in the hunt for a local home and the wheels will start to turn.
How can I find a rental in a particular area?
There are several great community websites and also local bulletins that allow landlords and owners to list rentals and people to search completely for free. Community websites allow you to search for rental listings just about anywhere, while listing on bulletin boards and networking may only work if you are within the community. If you are local to the area you are looking to reside in, check out bulletins at the local grocery store, dry cleaners, church bulletins, and other resources targeting the area you are looking to move to.
Should I contact former landlord as reference?
When you are looking for a rental home, you want to sit down and think about what you want in your new location and what you will not settle for. You also want to prepare yourself and your information, so that you look good on paper. Have names and phone numbers of any previous landlord and make sure to call them and let them know you are looking for a new rental, so they will not be caught off guard if they get a call about you.
If I List My Property in a Homes for Rent Database, How Do I Qualify a Potential Renter?
Before you decide to list your property in a homes-for-rent database, you should have a plan to qualify potential tenants. If you are new to the apartment and rental industry, you may not be aware of or knowledgeable about how to qualify and screen potential tenants. But this is a process you should learn as it will protect both your property and your bank account.
It's important for prospective tenants to understand the process, too. As a renter, you should be both aware and prepared to provide information that makes a landlord comfortable with renting to you once you find a house you want. So, what's involved in an adequate tenant qualification? Here are a few critical issues to consider.
- Credit analysis. Tenants who have a history of meeting their financial obligations are obviously preferred. If a prospective tenant has less than perfect credit, they still may be good choices if they have a satisfactory explanation for some prior problems.
- Employment verification. Before you sign a lease agreement, you should perform at least a simple telephone verification that your prospective tenant(s) are employed at present at the job(s) they have indicated on their rental application. If your potential new tenant is self-employed, ask for some verification of his/her business.
- References. Ask prospective tenants for two or three references of prior landlords and prior addresses. If they were good tenants in the past, they probably will be acceptable to you.
While the percentage of problem tenants is relatively small, landlords should screen potential tenants carefully to hopefully ensure they have found a good match. Tenants should be prepared to provide some evidence of their credibility to a landlord when they find houses for rent they want to occupy. If they are prepared to reinforce their ability to manage the rent and maintain the property, they will find it easier to rent the home they want.
The above-listed tip is for informational use only. Always read entire specific documents and language before executing any contract or agreement.
The Internet allows you to mix and match your search by searching for rentals on websites just for finding rentals, real estate agents websites and listings, specific community websites, newspapers online, and forums. There are a vast amount of places to search, that are easy to use and find a house rental that fit your requirements and needs. The listings found on the Internet are also updated frequently and more are added all the time, which helps to make your searching almost limitless.
Will the real estate agent charge me for finding my rental?
If you decide to contact a real estate agent to help find you a rental home or unit, get all the real estate fees established up front before the search begins. Often real estate agents make commission on the rental by charging the renter a months rent or a percentage of the total year's rent. Ask what the charge is for helping you find a rental and calculate that into the yearly cost of the rental. While a real estate agent will make your job easier of locating a rental that best fits your needs, it is important to know exactly what the costs will be to help you stay within your budget.
Can I use the Internet to find a rental home?
The Internet has made searching for a rental home both locally and long distance a lot easier and more convenient. There are several websites that specialize in searching for rental properties, as well as specific locations and communities. Searching online is usually free for those trying to locate a home. The Internet provides an insight into properties available, details about listings and amenities, and sometimes even pictures of the rental and virtual tours that make it easy to see the rental without leaving your home.