If you’re thinking of renting a house, you already now that it is a potential minefield. There are many things that could go wrong, but there are steps to ensure that you, and your landlord, are both protected when you enter into a lease agreement. Your landlord will probably be able to keep their side of the bargain by setting up a thorough lease agreement, and you should keep yours by doing your own due diligence.

Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure that your rental experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Get your paperwork ready

If you’ve spoken to a landlord and found a house you’ve liked, you’re likely to start getting ready to sign the lease. Your landlord, though, probably wants to know more about you. A landlord will probably want to look at a credit score report, review a couple of references and may even want a statement from your bank. You can help speed the process up by having these documents ready to go before you settle on a house. You’ll get to signing that lease faster, and your landlord will appreciate your preparedness.

Read your lease

This sounds basic, but it’s astonishing how many people only give their lease agreements a cursory glance. Read every line of your lease, and discuss it with your landlord. This may take time, but you’ll be thankful for it later. Ensuring that the terms and conditions of your rental are crystal clear from the get go will ensure that both you and your landlord face no problems a few months into the rental. Iron out details like when rent is due, how much the rent is, damage costs, pet policy before you sign the lease.

Security deposits

Like your paperwork, keep your security deposits ready. Research the area where you plan on renting and figure out what people generally pay as a deposit, and see if you can set the money aside. Though your actual deposit may be different from the amount you set aside, it won’t be very off, and you’ll be able to cut your landlord a check quickly.

Knowing about security deposits is also good so that you have an idea as to what a fair deposit is. This knowledge will help you manage your expectations of cost, and enable you to negotiate with your landlord if the deposit happens to be uncharacteristically high. Figure out if there is a holding deposit as well, and set aside some money for that so that a unit you really like doesn’t get rented out to someone else.

Inspect, inspect, inspect

Before you rent your home, always inspect it. Inspections can help you understand exactly what type of property you’re leasing, and identify problems, if any. If there are issues, identify them and make a list so that your landlord knows you didn’t cause them, and work out a plan for your landlord to work on those issues. Conducting an inspection with your landlord ensures that you’re both aware of the status of the house before you move in, and ensures that you both have a benchmark on how to leave it when you move out.

This simple, careful steps will enable you to rent a house with your eyes wide open, ensuring that you get the best deal you can. Your landlord will thank you for it too, because careful and educated renters who are aware of their rights are good tenants.

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