When you’re searching for a new place to call home, it's essential to pause and ensure you're making a well-informed decision. The lease you're about to sign is a binding contract, and the place you choose will be your home for the foreseeable future. This checklist will guide you through the vital considerations you need to know before signing on the dotted line.
Moving Home Can Be Stressful
Moving home is part of life, but that doesn't mean that it needs to be something you need to lose any sleep over; our checklist should help ensure you don't miss anything. So whether you're looking for an apartment for rent seattle, Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the country, keep this list in mind so you don't rush into making a decision too hastily.
- Budget Appropriateness
- Before you start searching for a home, or even if you've started your search already, you should make sure that you have a clear understanding of your budget and that the home you decide to proceed with is affordable. A common rule of thumb is to try to ensure your rent doesn't exceed 30% of your monthly income — while this is flexible, it's a good thing to keep in mind.
- Location, Location, Location
- Before you sign on the dotted line, check to see if the chosen location works for you now and in the future, paying close attention to local crime rates, transportation links, and proximity to amenities. If you don't drive or have access to a car, this is especially important but is often overlooked by people who think they've found their dream rental home.
- Lease Terms
- While signing as soon as possible might be tempting — especially if you're eager to get the property across the line — remember to check the fine print for any abnormal inclusions. If you have pets, pay close attention to any restrictions, as it's easy to miss these items and then be left with a difficult decision while being contractually obligated to pay the rent moving forward.
- Maintenance and Repairs
- When you move into a rental space, it's hard to know who's responsible for what, especially if a larger company manages the building. It's a good idea to ask about this in advance, as things like lightbulbs and individually blown fuses can usually be fixed by yourself, while plumbing issues and larger electrical problems may require a specialist, which your landlord may provide.
- Some buildings may include utilities in their rental prices, primarily if they're aimed at students who do not understand how utilities work. You should check this early on as a price might look great on paper, but if you need to pay several hundred dollars a month on top of your rent, it can quickly become unaffordable.
- Amenities and Facilities
- If your potential apartment building doesn't have on-site laundry services, it will be worth checking to see if there are any laundromats nearby that you can get to by foot. As well as this, having access to fitness facilities or a gym is also great, making it easier for you to stay healthy while in the stressful process of moving homes — health is wealth!
- Internet and Cable
- Many renters overlook this, but it’s essential to check the availability and quality of the area's internet and cable service. If the building doesn't provide the internet — as can often be the case — you'll want to check who the best local providers are, making sure to see whether their average speeds will be fast enough for your needs. If you have online classes or work remotely, this is especially important.
- Inspection and Condition
- Once you've done your research and are finally looking around the property, you should ensure that you can conduct a thorough inspection, checking for any signs of damage, mold, or disrepair. While these can often be resolved, being aware of them at the start and documenting their condition when you move in is essential for any rental tenant.
- The Housing Provider
- One of the last things you should check before signing is how well you'll be able to get along with your new potential landlord. If they can easily answer any questions you have and aren't in a rush to get you to sign before you can do your due diligence, then that's a good sign. A good landlord-tenant relationship is vital if you want to have a pleasant renting experience.
When renting a space, having a checklist on hand will help ensure you don't miss anything important, saving you from potential headaches further down the line. Everything we've included should help you choose a home that works for you now and in the future, which should align with your personal, lifestyle, and financial requirements, making everyone happy.