The key to being happy in a rental home is to know beforehand exactly what you are getting into. This does not only mean researching the rental rates of the area and knowing the amount of deposit you will be required to cough up at the outset. What you really need to do is a thorough inspection of all the properties on your shortlist to check for specific things that will ensure a comfortable stay.
Regardless of whether you’ve chosen an apartment or a stand-alone home, the first impression that you and your family will make of the property depends on what it looks like on the outside. So, take a tour of the exteriors, and check its condition to see if has been well-maintained. You might want to check if there is a garden or a back yard, and if so, is it also maintained well?
Checking the exterior also means taking a peek at who your neighbors are going to be, and whether you will have to deal with their nuisance. Also check for security. You can ask specific questions about any history of burglary or damage. Check the locks and ensure that this is a space that will give you peace of mind that you and your family will be safe.
If it is an apartment you are looking at, check the common areas and the grounds. Check for maintenance in these areas too and ask who maintains all common areas and what your contribution in terms of maintenance charges might be. Also, check if there is comfortable parking. You can ask questions regarding security of the premises, such as at the entrance.
I probably don’t need to tell you that the first thing to look for is whether the property has been well maintained. This can be ensured by checking for flaking paint, pest infestations, need for repairs in any part of the home, etc. Check for insulation, heating and air conditioning too, since it will make a huge difference to your utility bills. You can check for any draft from the window or door frames, double glazing to trap in the heat and whether the radiators are working properly.
The next thing to check is the electricals for signs of loose wires, malfunctioning lights or plugs and any signs that repairs are required on the wiring. You should also check the water pipes and faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen to check for leaks or signs of damage. Check if the shower and bath are in good working condition. You might even want to flush the toilet to check if its functioning properly.
Checking the interiors would also mean checking that there is adequate storage for your needs. So, check all closet and wardrobe spaces, any additional storage spaces, kitchen cabinets and work surfaces, etc. In addition, check what appliances come along with the home, such as washing machine, dish washer and so on. These days, it is also a good idea to check for internet connectivity, since so much of our lives depends on being able to access the online world.
You should also take a look at whether there is a burglar alarm, adequate fire safety measures, including fire alarms, extinguishers, escape routes, etc. This is also a good time to ask whether you have the freedom to redecorate the home to suit your taste and needs. In case you feel that the walls need a fresh coat of paint, you can ask whether the home will be repainted before you move in.
It is always useful to take some time out before visiting any rental property to make a list of things that you and your family will specifically need for comfortable living. This will ensure that you do not miss out on any essential checks. And, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you find out about all the charges you might have to deal with on a regular basis, who will be in charge of maintenance and what mode of payment will be acceptable. All this will not only help you budget for the month but also determine whether the property falls within your budget and your payment comfort zone.