Renting is a great a way to live affordably, and the benefits are even greater when you split the rent between a few housemates.
But be careful not to let the potential benefits cloud your judgement. Renting takes practice and can involve costly mistakes, so it’s important to ask the right questions before signing a lease.
Here are seven questions to guide you on your way.
1. Can I take the lease home and read it properly before signing it?
If you’ve been approved for a house that you’ve applied for, it’s fine to ask for a day or two to properly look over the lease and make sure the terms are reasonable.
Don’t stall for too long, but make sure you read over it carefully and ask a trusted friend to look at it, too. This will stop you from agreeing to a dodgy lease.
2. Is this a typical amount to pay for a rental property in this suburb?
This is more a question you should be asking before you apply for the house. But, if after inspecting the property you suspect there’s something a bit off with the amount you’re being asked to pay, it’s always a good idea to grill the agent about this.
You should also be wary of additional ‘extras’, like maintenance fees for communal areas. The advertised price of the property and what you actually end up paying each month can sometimes differ, so make sure you find out exactly what’s included in the rent.
3. Can we have an official lease drawn up?
If a landlord tries to have you move into their property without a proper lease, alarm bells should definitely be ringing.
It’s important that the agreement is documented on paper and signed by both parties, so that everyone is protected in the event of a dispute.
Top tips: Rental leases and legal obligations
4. Is this a safe area to live in?
Make sure you do your research on the exact location of the property before you start moving your stuff in.
Do an internet search of the area first, and then make sure you physically suss out the surrounding businesses and houses to get a proper feel for the neighbourhood.
The last thing you want is to discover a hidden club under your building after you’ve signed a 12-month lease.
5. Can we organise an inspection for my housemate?
It can be difficult to get everyone to a rental property inspection at the same time, but it’s important that everyone who is moving into the house sees it before they move in.
You need to make sure that everyone is happy before you sign the lease, and, if that means arranging an extra viewing with the real estate agent, then that’s what you’ll have to do.
6. Can you please fix this problem with the property?
If you notice a problem, you need to ask the landlord to fix it immediately.
Never hesitate to ask for repairs, as it’s also in the landlord’s best interest to stay on top of maintenance, as minor problems can develop into costly nightmares when they’re not dealt with promptly.
7. Can you wait for a moment while I document this?
If the real estate agent or landlord is giving you a tour of the home and they’re pointing out things that will be fixed by the time you move in, take the time to stop and document the problem, by taking notes and a photograph.
Paper trails are incredibly important when you’re renting a house, so be sure to keep a file of house-related documents.
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