7 Smart Dos And Don'ts Of Renting A Home

Are you considering renting a house? If so, you should not rush into the deal without a few major considerations. While common sense may tell you to consider the neighborhood and inspect the dwelling, other factors need to be considered as well.

Save yourself some stress and disappointment by avoiding a few common mistakes and asking questions before signing a lease. What are some of the "dos and don'ts" to consider before negotiating a lease with your prospective landlord? Use the following as your guideline:

1. DO make a through inspection of the house and note damages before signing your lease: Failing to do so could cost you money later on, as you may be held responsible for damages that you have not caused. Check for cracks on walls and doors. Also look for mildew, stains on carpeting or warped flooring.

Upon noting any damages, make a record of it in writing. Be sure to point out these damages to the landlord by offering a checklist. For your own protection, have the landlord sign it and keep a copy for your personal records. It is also a good idea to take photographs of the damage and place the prints with your checklist or file.

During your inspection, be sure to note whether the appliances work. Check the refrigerator, dishwasher and washer and dryer if applicable. In the event of a malfunction, will the landlord replace or repair the unit?

2. DON'T assume you may break your lease without a written agreement from the landlord: In life, unforeseen circumstances happen that may change the course of events. Whether it is due to a job relocation, illness of a faraway family member or other reason, you might need to break your lease at some point. However, you could face some stiff penalties by doing so, unless there is a written agreement in your lease permitting you to do so. Typically referred to as a "release clause" or "break clause", this gives the tenant the right to terminate the lease before the end of the contract if need be. Check the details of the lease carefully, because you will most likely have to give some advance notice before termination.

3. DO be prepared to have a responsible co-signer available if need be: There may be a stipulation in the lease that requires a guarantor to be responsible should you be unable to pay the rent or past payments. Even if your wages exceed the requirements for monthly rent, you may be required to provide a co-signer to your lease, so consider a willing individual ahead of time.

4. DON'T allow roommates or guests to reside in the home or use the property without consent from the landlord: To be certain you are not breaking any rules, you should determine the landlord's policies on having individuals that are not listed on the lease stay with you.

5. DO inquire about pet policies before signing your lease: If you have or intend to have pets live with you, this must be discussed with your landlord. Failing to do so, or not reading the fine print in the lease, could mean an eviction as well as a loss of a security deposit you have paid.

6. DON'T assume the landlord is responsible for all home repairs and yard maintenance: Unless it is specifically stated in the lease that your landlord will take care of repairs and maintenance, you will probably have to take care of these duties, or possibly foot the bill as well. It's possible you may be required to do the maintenance and yard work, although you may be reimbursed for the costs of materials. There may be stipulations and exclusions, so discuss this with your landlord or find these details in the lease.

7. DO determine the tenant's rights pertaining to privacy: You might not take kindly to your landlord entering the home unannounced at any given time. Will you be given notice via a phone call or letter prior to your landlord (or representative) entering the property?

Obtain all the details before you sign a lease. Always insist on getting everything in writing, so there is no discrepancy later on.

Check out a real estate company like Re Max to help you find a home to rent.