According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, the last year of reliable data from the Census Bureau, 36% of Americans rented rather than owning a home. While many of them are in early adulthood, many are also families, empty nesters, and seniors. This means more people are renting, making it more difficult to find the right home for your budget and lifestyle.
There are a number of steps you can take to expedite the process and find the right rental property for you, despite the competitive market. Secure the perfect property and have a stress-free renting experience with these eight rental hacks.
Setting a budget might seem like an obvious renting hack, but many seem to overlook this idea when searching the market for a rental home. It is critical to set a realistic budget before beginning your search.
Your budget should account for the median rent price for the neighborhood you want to live in as well as your financial situation. It is recommended to only spend one-third of your income on housing so you can afford to pay utilities and other bills.
For example, if your household makes $6,000 per month, you should aim to spend $2,000 or less per month on rent.
Start Searching Early
You should begin your search for an apartment or home several months in advance. If you want the best possible chance of finding a property that fits your budget and needs, start looking early on to get an idea of what the process is going to look like for you.
If you begin looking for a rental early, it allows you to take the proper time to see properties, make stress-free decisions, and choose a property you like rather than only choosing one that is left.
Once you choose a place to live, you will be left with plenty of time to obtain all your necessary documentation, sign your lease or close on a home, and plan your move.
But, keep in mind that properties usually do not stay on the market for two months, so try not to get attached to a specific space unless you can terminate your current rental agreement early.
Search Online - But Use Other Outlets Too
While there are a variety of online resources to find a rental home, such as Zillow, Apartments.com, and Facebook Marketplace, you should not strictly rely on rental listing networks.
Drive around the neighborhoods you have in mind to look for “For Rent” signs, check local papers, and use word of mouth and social media to help spread the word to your personal network.
Not every landlord or property management company uses online platforms to advertise their available units either. Some property management companies list their rentals on their personal website rather than using an advertisement platform, so be sure you are using all available outlets to get the widest selection of available properties.
Beware of Scammers
Online scams are becoming more common than ever and potential renters are getting caught in this unfortunate mix.
If you are applying to rent from an individual, you should be especially careful giving them your social security number, bank account number, or any other important personal information. When searching for a rental property, watch out for suspicious behavior like:
- Paying a deposit to see a potential property. No company or individual should require a deposit to check out a rental.
- Some companies and individuals also set up fake rental listings and illegally sub-let properties to renters, keeping your deposit and initial fees.
- An individual or company rushing you to pay a deposit. You should only pay a deposit once you are confident in your decision to rent the space and have all the information you need.
- A landlord making excuses so you cannot see the property. Do not put a deposit on or sign a contract for a property you have not seen in person. It could have health hazards or poor living conditions.
If you are concerned about an individual or property management company's reputation, you can also check social media platforms, like Facebook, before agreeing to rent from them. Oftentimes, there are community groups for renters exposing landlords and companies that do not take care of their properties or scam renters out of money.
Inspect Property and Your Lease Before Signing
The best way to avoid misunderstandings with your landlord is to completely inspect the property and written agreement before signing the lease. Oftentimes landlords will fail to mention crucial rules and regulations that are included in the lease.
You will not want an issue to come up and be unaware of the rule you broke. We also suggest giving the property a final walk-through before signing the agreement to ensure it is in the same condition that you found it.
Take note of any damage when you move in, even if you do not plan to submit a maintenance request to ensure that you are not charged for any pre-existing damage when you move out.
Buy Renters Insurance
Just because you are renting instead of buying does not mean the landlord or lease will cover every issue you encounter. Oftentimes renting policies do not cover losses from extensive property damage, theft, or natural disasters. Renter’s insurance, however, will cover those losses.
Negotiate When Possible
When it comes to finding the perfect rental property, having negotiation skills can be a great asset. While you may not have complete control over every aspect of a rental agreement, you can negotiate with a property management company or landlord.
If the property you are interested in has a higher monthly cost than other comparable properties nearby or if the space is not in as good of condition as its listing, try negotiating with the company or individual. Oftentimes, they will reduce the price to get the space occupied.
Researching neighborhoods is an essential step to finding the ideal rental property. Start your research online and explore real estate websites and neighborhood-specific sites or forums. These platforms can usually shed light on the neighborhood's character and lifestyle.
In addition to online resources, visit the official websites of local governments and municipalities. These sites provide information about neighborhoods, including crime rates, public services, zoning regulations, and upcoming development projects.
Engaging with current residents or neighbors is another invaluable aspect of neighborhood research. By talking to those who live in the area, you can gain firsthand knowledge of what it is really like to be a part of the community.
Relocate to Your Perfect Rental Property with Atlas
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