Complete These Six Important Tasks Before Renting A House
To avoid frustration and disappointment later, complete these tasks prior to renting.
Moving into a new house is no easy task. You have to write up a new rental agreement, make a lump sum security deposit with the owner, obtain a new gas connection, sign up with an Internet Service Provider, enlist the services of a new house help or cook, and finally, engage in the laborious task of physically moving all your stuff into the new place. Additionally, if you happen to live in a city with an unreliable power supply, you’ll need to install your own backup generator as well (unless the place already comes with one). With so many things that have to be transported across miles, and so many new connections to be taken, wouldn’t it make better sense to check if the place suits you first?
You wouldn’t want to move in, and then be forced to put up with some or other kind of difficulty, do you? A little bit of research and in-depth scrutiny of the place will go a long way in preventing recurring issues from cropping up, saving you precious mental energy that could otherwise be utilized towards your own personal endeavours.
Here are 6 things you need to look out for before putting your signature on that rental agreement:
Check all the fittings and fixtures thoroughly
Ever moved into a house only to see it fall apart with every door, window, or cupboard movement? Don’t get shipwrecked in a broken house. Inspect the house thoroughly to your satisfaction before making any kind of commitment, and don’t be hurried by the broker or agent showing you the place. You’re the one who’s going to be living in it, not them. So take your own sweet time with it.
Check for cracks near door frames and windows, as well as for cracks on the window pane itself. Look up at the ceilings for any signs of water seepage. Ensure that the windows and doors don’t creak when moved, and that the locks turn smoothly. Check for rotting or molding wood.
See if the taps and faucets are in working order. Check for leaks in the plumbing in the kitchen, toilets, and any other area of the house where there’s a water connection. Don’t forget to check if the flush works properly and isn’t leaking after the knob returns to its original position. Make sure you inspect the kitchen and utility area (or balcony) for any gaps or small openings through which insects and rodents could get in. Check for rusted and broken railings on the staircase and window grills.
Remember, every single thing you choose to ignore, overlook, and not bring to the owners' attention, will be a source of misery and anxiety for you in the future.
Ask yourself. Is it really worth going through such hassles?
Check the water source and the water situation
Many cities in the world are water stressed due to the current global warming situation, and areas that were once safe heavens with high liveability scores, now face water scarcity every summer. The new place I recently moved into happened to be a very old place with deteriorating fittings and fixtures which the owner hasn’t bothered replacing all these years. And to add to my existing woes, I noticed that the water situation at the place was a bit tense.
Water would come in only once every two days, and that’s if we were diligent enough to turn on the motor right at the time when it did. If me or my neighbour upstairs happened to be outside during that time, we’d have to be very conservative with our water usage over the next two days, or risk having to be without water altogether. I regrettably failed to ask them about this while moving in. Hence, warning you about the same.
Check the situation with the power too. If the power keeps going out more frequently than you thought, you’d have to install a higher grade inverter, as opposed to one that lasts only for a few hours.
Check the age of the building
Be sure to check the age of the building with the owner and city records before finalizing the house. Buildings fall all the time. Ceilings have come crashing down in the past in some really old homes. Also, looks can be deceiving. Repainting, internal micro fixes, or glossy cosmetic touch-ups done to the building exterior will conceal the true reality of the crumbling bits and shambles that it really is in beneath all that veneer.
You don’t want to be a victim of one of those, do you?
Check the condition of the owner’s furniture
Whether it’s an unfurnished, furnished, or semi-furnished house, there’s always some furniture lying around that either belongs to the owner, or was left behind by the previous tenant.
You don’t want to be responsible for something you didn’t do.
The moment you move into the place, make sure you send a picture of every room and piece of furniture to the owner, documenting the existing condition of each item. In this way, you discharge yourself from liability towards any damage that the furniture has already sustained, and this sends a clear message to the owner that you’re not to be messed with. Also, make sure you let the owner know you won’t be requiring certain pieces of furniture and will be moving them to the store room till she/he can come collect them.
You don’t have to necessarily keep everything they give you, and can gladly keep some of it stored in an attic or store room until the next tenant comes along to use it.
Check the lighting
To do this, you’ll have to schedule a visit to the property with the owner or her agent sometime during the middle of the day. By visiting the house at this time, you’ll get to know the maximum amount of natural light you can expect to receive while living there. You’ll get a rough estimate of how much you’ll have to shell out for monthly electricity in case you have to keep some or all of the lights on most of the time in case of insufficient lighting.
For instance, when I was initially surveying the place I currently reside in, I knew that I’d never have a problem with lighting in the hall since it receives plenty of natural light during the day, and so have positioned my workstation there accordingly. However, I failed to check the lighting situation in the kitchen. And coming from a place that was naturally lit for the entirety of the day, it sure does feel depressing to keep the lights on in certain rooms all the time.
I now have to keep the kitchen light on throughout the day, since it’s located at the very back of the house and receives a very dull shade of sunlight.
Same for the bathrooms. I never needed to put on the lights to use the bathroom during the day at my previous place. However, since this house is surrounded by other houses on both sides, with the bathroom and bedroom windows facing the walls of those adjacent houses, barely any light gets in through the gaps, and I am forced to turn on the light every time I need to use the restroom.
Don’t forget to check on this very important aspect while looking for a house, especially if you’re going to be working from home.
Take a walk around the neighbourhood to know more about the area
Do this last bit of research before finalizing the house.
Take a walk around the area. Quietly observe the kind of people that live in or frequent it. Is it mostly made up of families and kids, or single people? Are most of them locals or migrants from other cities and countries? How peaceful is the area?
Make sure you take a walk around the neighbourhood at least a couple of times on different occasions to know what kind of people live there, and to see how they’ll react to your presence. Try speaking to a couple of them if you can. I’ve been frequenting the neighbourhood I currently live in for over a year now because a friend lives on the same street. So my confidence in the place was naturally high while I was moving in, and I didn’t even have to ask my landlady about the kind of people living there.
Based on the amount of research and due diligence you’re willing to conduct looking for a house, renting can either be a walk in the park or a nightmare that you deal with every single day.
Do let me know what you look for in a house while renting, and the checklist (if any) that you follow in the comments bar to the side.
P.S. Don’t forget to collect a spare set of keys from the owner along with the original, and remember to ask for your security deposit while moving out.