Renting a House Checklist

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  • Don't just go by square footage - the number of rooms and their size is important.
  • The more baths a household has, the better - especially for large families.
  • You could be held liable for replacing damaged or stained floors after you move in, so look for durability and neutral colors.
  • Make sure that some form of ventilation exists unless you live in a very moderate climate. Ask if a specialist has inspected any central units recently.
  • Will you be responsible for upkeep, or will the landlord?
  • Is any existing in good condition? If you will need to enclose a pet or have a safe place for children to play, make sure the fence is sturdy.
  • If you would be responsible for lawn landscaping upkeep, is there an installed sprinkler system to streamline the job?
  • Has the pool been properly maintained, and is it safe? Again, find out who is responsible for upkeep, you or the owner.
  • Is a security system installed and active? If not, ask about options.
  • Check to see if the school district is ranked highly if you have children. If you are attending university, you may want to live near campus.
  • It's always good to live close to quality medical care facilities.
  • The rental should be clearly marked with the house number, so it can be found by emergency services in a crisis.
  • You may want easy access to a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other place of worship.
  • Don't forget the need to be able to go shopping, eat out or order in, have dry cleaning done, haircuts received, and banking accomplished.
  • You will need to know the rules concerning parking and ensure there is room for your vehicle(s).
  • Is there a bus stop nearby? Can you catch a cab or take the subway? If you don't have a car, these are prime considerations.
  • If you want a short trip to work and back, you have to take into account the length of your commute plus traffic conditions.
  • If you have a pet, you will need to ensure you are in compliance not only with the terms of your lease but with local ordinances as well.
  • Can you afford it? You may also be asked for a deposit and first month in advance.
  • Connection fees, new service, and even physical visits may be necessary to get your electric, gas, water, phone, cable or internet hooked up.
  • Can you move yourself, or do you need to hire a moving company? These costs will need to be factored in.
  • Note everything that you find amiss and write it down.
  • Note anything broken, work or needing replacement.
  • Get at least a week to report additional problems after move in - a walk through is often rushed and won't catch everything.
  • Your list of possible problems should be signed and dated by both you and your landlord.
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When renting a house, there are a variety of factors to consider. Renting a home is different than buying, in that there are many responsibilities you will not be accountable for. However, there are still a lot of similarities when it comes top comparing various houses and adding up the plus and minus columns to choose your perfect temporary home. Your best bet is to use a checklist to prioritize the things that are important to you and use that as a starting point in your rental home search. Families with small children will have a different set of wants and needs than a confirmed bachelor or a senior citizen. The following checklist should help you to make a final decision.


Your monthly budget will obviously affect your decision; certain neighborhoods may be off limits as too pricey. Decide what is most important to you and what you can live without to compromise on a home you will be happy with. You may choose to live in a rural area and endure a longer commute to work, school, markets, and other amenities. Alternately, you may decide that you prefer living in the bustle of the big city where dining, shopping, and entertainment is mere blocks away suits your lifestyle.Many people prefer the suburbs as a comfortable compromise between country living and city life. Do a little research on the area you are considering moving into, and get a big picture of the kind of prices that are average for rentals, and what kind of homes are available.  The nice thing about renting a house is that you will generally not be responsible for normal wear and tear or emergency home repairs. You'll want to find a landlord with a good reputation for upkeep. Nonetheless, still check on the state of the home as far as you are able - it would be huge disruption in your life to have to be relocated temporarily while a major problem is being fixed.

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