You have had enough of your current living situation. You’re not ready to buy and so want to start renting a home of your own.
But…you’re not sure where or how to start to find the perfect place to rent.
Whether you are all grown up and sick of living with your parents, moving closer to your workplace, or starting over somewhere new, it’s time to start looking into renting options.
Here are 8 questions you need to ask yourself before you begin the rental home hunting process:
1. How much money can you afford to pay for rent and utilities?
It can be easy to over-estimate how much you’re able to spend on a rental home, so when it doubt, consider this: A good rule of thumb is to set aside between 25% to 35% of your monthly income for this purpose.
Dave Ramsey, author of best-selling books like ‘The Total Money Makeover‘, suggests that rent should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay.
Spend more than 50% of your income on rent, and you could end up over-stretching yourself financially, especially if find yourself running into cash flow issues.
It is best to work out your monthly fees, then decide how much you can actually afford to spend on rental.
Whatever your income, the maximum you should spend on your rental is 50% of your income at best.
Unless you plan to stay home 24 hours a day, you will definitely have to pay for expenses like transportation, entertainment or eating out every now and then.
2. Where should you live?
After you’ve decided on how much you can afford to spend on a home, it is time to decide where you should live.
This wholly depends on your preferred lifestyle. For example:
- Do you want to live in an apartment or a landed house?
- Do you want to live near public transportation?
- Do you have a car which needs a space to park?
- Do you work a normal day job or you have the night shift, so you need a neighbourhood that is also safe at night to return to?
- Are you a quiet or loud person in general?
- Do you want housemates?
- Do you want visitors?
Once you know what type of life you’d like to live in your new rental home, narrowing your choices down will be so much easier.
3. What are five must-haves in your home?
Start by writing down 5 essentials that you must have in your rental home. Of course, we all want the amenities we see ourselves having in our own homes, in our rental homes as well.
But this doesn’t always happen.
For example, you might have to give up your dream of soaking your cares away in bath every evening in favour of something more practical — a quick daily shower.
However, apart from the essentials like running hot water and electricity, if your landlord isn’t willing to go the extra mile for you, your best option may be to consider renting from someone else.
4. How long are you planning to stay for?
Be sure to check your rental lease to if it has a set period so you don’t get surprised with unexpected charges should you want to break your lease early.
Additionally, your rental lease may not be automatically renewed either, so make sure to pay attention to the fine details of your agreement with your landlord so that you know what you’re getting into.
5. Is the rental area furnished?
Check if your landlord will be providing you with just space or a furnished one.
Certain items like chairs or side tables can be moved relatively easily, safely and inexpensively— not so much with bigger, heavier, more fragile and more expensive items like a fridge, 4-seater sofa, sectional or dining table, if you had to buy these yourself.
Be mentally prepared to deal with hassles like this if your prospective rental home comes unfurnished. If needed, you can always head to buy furniture at IKEA without blowing your budget.
6. Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?
Make it a habit to ask your potential landlords the hard-hitting questions: “If a pipe in the basement springs a leak and ends up flooding the place, who is responsible for fixing it?”
Hashing out details like up front this can make for a much smoother rental experience and also cut down the potential for conflict with your landlord later down the road.
7. Do you have a legal agreement in place?
It can be tempting to skip over the legal aspects of renting a home just to do away with it entirely, and get this: Rocket Lawyer, an online legal technology company that ran a survey showed that a quarter of renters did not read through or understand their lease fully before signing.
In best case scenarios, they could find themselves renting from an amazing landlord, but you can bet that a handful of them will find themselves in hot soup because they didn’t fully understand the terms they signed on for.
Having a legally-binding contract — be it a short-term rental agreement or longer-term lease — in essential for protecting both your rights as a tenant and that of your landlord’s.
Insist on one if your landlord would rather have a verbal agreement instead, so that you’re kept safe in the event an unexpected dispute or unfair change of heart happens.
Before you sign, have a real estate agent or legal practitioner look over the contract for you.
You can be sure that your landlord is trying to get the best deal for themselves, which is fine, but it always pays to do your due diligence and make sure they don’t take advantage of you while doing it.
8. Have you visited and checked your rental home thoroughly?
There’s another crucial step you need to take before signing on the dotted line, and that’s to visit and check your rental home thoroughly.
“Thorough” is the keyword here, like making sure the bed frames will not fall apart when you sit down, or that there is no termite infestation.
After all, this is a home that you will be living in for the foreseeable future. You want a rental home that you’ll look forward to going home to at the end of the day, every single day.
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