Looking to rent a house? Here are three things you need to do before signing the lease and moving in.

  1. Always read the fine print

    Going through the contract carefully can save you from a lot of trouble later. An ‘annual’ lease doesn’t necessarily have to run for 12 months, it could expire at the end of the year especially if you are renting out the property sometime around the beginning of the calendar year. If the duration is not mentioned in writing, make sure it is. It will ensure that you do not have to pay for expensive repairs later. There are cases where landlords promise to attend to certain issues, but go back on their promise after the tenant moves in. It can be harder holding him/her to his/her word if he/she moves to another state after you unpack your suitcases and settle in. Or if he/she lives in another area already. In such cases, ask if there is someone local who can take care of the repairs and/or act as a trusted liaison. Even if it is mentioned in the contract, out-of-station landlords sometimes tend to disbelieve their tenants when something crops up and needs to be fixed.Such instances sour the landlord-tenant relationship and you are advised to watch out for clauses that don’t exist. In addition, make sure it is legal. It several states it is the landlord’s responsibility to take care of rodent problems, so doing some research beforehand might help you be wary of clauses that may not be in compliance with the law.
  2. Do background checks on the landlord tooWhile landlords check the backgrounds of their prospective tenants, not many do the opposite. So ask around to know at least a little about the landlord.
  3. Take your timeThere is no need to rush in. You don’t want to sign the lease on what you think is an exciting place only to find later that the roof cannot accommodate your six-foot frame. Check everything, including flushing the toilets and turning the lights on, to ensure that they work. You might have visited the place in the noon and might have found it great. Try coming back at a time when there is a lower amount of light, such was when it is cloudy or raining or towards evening, and see if you still have the same opinion. Sometimes it is at this time that you will realize that there are not enough windows. Also come back at night to get a feel of the neighborhood – if this is where you are going to be living in, you don’t want to get mugged while returning home late. Rental prices may also surge during the weekends when there are several people coming in to look. The prices may be lower over the week, so patience will pay if you can take some time off work and come during the week.