Finding a house to rent can seem complicated, but how to rent a house and choosing the ideal home for you doesn’t have to be an intimidating task. With the right approach and a few useful tips, you can be well on your way to renting a home you truly love.
Step 1: Determine Your Renting Budget
Houses available for rent come in all sizes, colors, and layouts. The rental market offers incredible variety from one-bedroom condos to beach houses that sleep 10. Because there are so many options, people looking for a place to rent may need to narrow the field to properties within a set price range. An excellent financial guideline for developing a rent budget is 30% of the gross monthly household income. Be sure to include all the sources of income available to apply toward the rent.
Beyond the monthly rent, there are other expenses to calculate to figure out how much house you can afford.
Here are a few of the costs to consider:
- Utilities, including heating, air conditioning, electricity, and water, vary widely. The landlord may provide you with the average utility costs for the previous year.
- If you have household pets, you may pay extra rent for each animal. You may also need to pay a larger deposit.
- Most property owners require a security deposit at least a month’s rent.
- Savvy renters understand the importance of protecting their belongings, so renters insurance is essential in figuring into your budget.
- Moving expenses can also vary widely, depending on how far you’re moving and how much you need to move.
It’s impossible to plan for every cost you encounter when renting a home. Maintaining the lawn, homeowners’ association fees, charges for using shared spaces, trash disposal, and pest control are just a few of the expenses you may encounter. If the home doesn’t include a washer and dryer, you will want to allocate funds in your budget to buy a set or to visit a coin-op laundromat regularly. Remember that some expenses may be part of your rent. Your lease should include all these details.
After taxes, the rent plus these related expenses shouldn’t take up more than half of your household income. While this is a good rule of thumb, remember that every situation is different, so you should carefully evaluate your own financial situation. When in doubt, err on the conservative side so that you don’t put yourself in a financial bind with rent too high for your income.
Tip: Consider communities that are designed with renters in mind.
Your monthly expenses will largely depend on the property and its landlord, so choose wisely. For example, some landlords require renters to be responsible for paying for all outdoor maintenance, including landscaping and pest control. There are other landlords that expect their tenants to cover other upkeep costs, such as replacement air filters, lightbulbs, and other items.
However, there are also options for renters that want to get the best bang for their buck. For example, Wan Bridge communities are specifically tailored to meet the needs of renters. This means that each of our communities is set up with professional property management services so that residents don’t have to spend time or money on home maintenance. Our Texas homes for rent include complementary services such as lawn maintenance, pest control, and more.
Step 2: Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score is essential to a successful search for a rental home. While you can rent a home with no credit or bad credit, finding a property will likely be more challenging, and you will probably have to pay more. Some landlords and property managers require a co-signer if your credit isn’t strong. On the other hand, a solid credit score can put you in a better negotiating position.
Many people keep a close eye on their score and have a good idea of what it is at any time. If you don’t know your score, you’ll want to review your credit report before getting too far into your search. The easiest way to discover your credit score is through the free website annualcreditreport.com. If you find something negative or a mistake on your report, you have time to correct it so that it doesn’t pose a problem when you see the house you want to rent.
Tip: Be aware of potential scammers and protect your information.
The government authorizes this website to provide one free credit report each year. You are entitled to this report by law, and you should never pay for access to your annual credit report. Unfortunately, some scam websites take advantage of people who don’t read carefully. Make sure you only provide legitimate websites’ personal information and never respond to random emails or calls that request private data.
Step 3: Find a House
Once your finances are in order, you’re ready to find a house to rent. This part of the process is very exciting. However, it’s important to proceed carefully to ensure that the home you rent meets your needs. Here are a few things to consider as you begin your search for the right rental house:
Some families want to live close to schools in suburban areas, while others prefer a downtown area’s busy pace and nightlife. Houses to rent may be more plentiful in one place than another. Commute time is an essential consideration for some families. You’ll want to discuss these preferences with everyone who lives in your home to make sure you’re looking for the right kind of house to rent.
Priority Features Of The Home
For some renters, location is less important than the house’s amenities. For example, if you have pets or small children, you may want a home with a fenced yard. To accommodate your family, you may prefer a home with at least two bathrooms or four bedrooms. If you own a car, you may want a property with a garage. If someone in your family has limited mobility due to age, injury, or disability, you’ll need a home that is comfortable and accessible. Make a written list of what you need to help you stay focused during the search. Having something in writing makes it easier to avoid getting lured in by something you don’t really need and regret later.
Avoiding Rental Scams
Unfortunately, scam artists often target people looking to rent a home. They may present you with pictures or an ad for a home that they don’t actually own or have the right to rent to you. You hand over the cash, only to find out there’s no home to move into, and the scammer is nowhere to be found. Here are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rental scam:
- If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Deeply discounted rent on a beautiful house rental in excellent shape is probably a scam. For example, if the going rate for the neighborhood is $1,000 per month and you find a beautiful, well-maintained home for $500, you should be skeptical.
- If the property manager or owner can’t show you the property for rent in advance, you may be dealing with a scam artist. Sometimes the scammers claim to be out of the country or give some other strange explanation for why you can’t see the house. Never hand over money for a property you haven’t toured in person.
- If the potential landlords seem to be pressuring you to rent the property without doing their due diligence to discover whether you would be a good potential tenant, you should beware. A legitimate property manager will take a rental application, do credit checks, a background check, and meet with you face to face before asking for money. Legitimate owners will not take a chance on renting their valuable property to someone without checking them out first.
- If the property manager or owner asks you to pay in cash or wire money out of state or out of the country before you’ve ever visited the property, you’re likely dealing with a rental scam. No matter how reasonable it sounds, there’s no good reason to ask someone to pay a security deposit via an untraceable method like cash or wire transfer.
Find More Than One Rental Property
Don’t commit to the first rental property you find during your search. A good rule of thumb is to identify at least three good candidates that fit your needs. Prioritize them so that you can move on to your second or third choice if your first choice doesn’t work out. This method also helps you avoid overpaying out of desperation.
Tip: Don’t forget to consider the community’s amenities.
It’s not uncommon for potential tenants to focus only on the house and forget to take a closer look at the community surrounding it. While the features of the home are important, the community is equally so.
Think about your lifestyle, routine, and preferences, and look for a community that can meet all of your needs. For example, many families with children will prefer communities with amenities such as parks and playgrounds, while dog owners might want a neighborhood with extensive walking trails. Particularly in Texas, homes for rent can vary considerably when it comes to the communities they’re in.
Because Wan Bridge is a community developer dedicated exclusively to creating build-to-rent communities, we’ve taken extra care to build communities that offer everything tenants could want and more. Our vision has always been to develop neighborhoods that aren’t just places to live but are also communities where our tenants can build lasting relationships, have fun, and make memories.
Each of our communities offers unique amenities, but some of the most talked-about features include:
- Direct access to the beautiful Lake Conroe in our Lakeside Conroe community, including a lakefront park and dog park
- A community center and large, resort-style pool at our Clearwater at Balmoral community
- Close proximity to diverse school districts, including a district named one of America’s very best, like at our Edison Park community
- Community walking trails and playgrounds, like the ones enjoyed by residents in our Bay Colony Pointe West community
Step 4: Tour Your Favorites
Touring your favorite properties in person is the best way to go if it’s at all possible. You want to meet your landlord in person and view the home. However, if your move is to another state, visiting the properties takes planning. Ask the property management companies or owners if you can see the houses on the same day or over two days so that you can make a single trip. If you absolutely cannot make the trip to see the homes, identify a friend or relative to go on the tours for you. If you have no one to stand in for you, the last resort is to go on a virtual tour and interview.
No matter how you tour the property, you want to look for some specific things:
- Evaluate the extra space for storage, including closets, attic, basement, and outdoor space to make sure it’s adequate.
- Look for electrical outlets to see if they are in the rooms you need in the quantity you need.
- Measure the rooms, especially bedrooms, to ensure they will accommodate your furniture and personal property.
- Imagine what it would be like to live in the layout of the home. Think about where you will eat and prepare your meals, where you will relax, and where everyone will sleep.
- Count cabinets and other storage areas to ensure you have enough space for food storage, dishes, pots and pans, and other cooking tools.
- Look for a dishwasher. If one isn’t present, think about cleaning up after meals.
- Ask if the home has a unit washer and dryer or hookups for them if you bring your own. If not, ask where people in the neighborhood wash clothes.
- Evaluate the amount of light in each room, including natural light through windows and light fixtures.
- Consider the home’s safety features, including parking, smoke detectors, fenced yards, security systems, and outdoor lighting.
- Sniff the air for any rooms that smell musty, moldy, or damp. Look for signs of water damage on the ceiling that might indicate a leaking roof. Open cabinets and, if possible, look behind sinks for any signs of mice or insects.
- Assess the home rental unit for property damage to see if it seems well cared for or neglected.
- Inquire whether the home is part of a homeowners’ association. If so, ask if you are responsible for those fees or if the landlord pays them.
- If the house has an HVAC system, discuss with the landlord the age of the unit and whether you are responsible for routine maintenance such as changing filters.
- Visit the home at different times and days of the week to evaluate traffic patterns along the route from the house to your job or school. Take notes of dangerous intersections, school zones, etc. Try to get a feel for the neighborhood based on what you see other residents doing, such as walking dogs, mowing lawns, or barbecuing.
Step 5: Choose a Property and Ask Some Questions
When you have your list of at least three properties, it’s time to choose your favorite and ask a few more follow-up questions.
- How much is the required security deposit and application fee? Are there other fees that you need to pay upfront?
- What is the process, and who do you contact when you need maintenance or repairs on the property?
- Are overnight guests or roommates allowed in the home?
- If you have pets, are they allowed? Are there any pet policies or special rules related to animals?
- Is the property available long-term, and do you have the option to renew your lease at the end of the term? Does the landlord have any plans to sell the property soon?
- What are your options for paying the rent? Can you pay online? What are the due dates and late fees?
- Can you make cosmetic changes to the property, such as painting rooms? Can you plant a garden?
- What is the process when you are ready to move out? How much notice is required?
Step 6: Sign the Lease and Move-In
Before you sign, read the lease carefully yourself, and if possible, have an attorney review it for you so that you thoroughly understand the things to which you are agreeing. Once you sign the contract, you can plan for a move-in day.
Where Can I Learn More?
If you’re looking for a luxury home to rent in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro area, contact Wan Bridge to view the available properties in our build-to-rent communities. Our friendly and professional team can answer all your questions and help you find the right place to call home.
Image Source: Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock