Home rental

What First-time Renters Need To Know

There are so many horror stories about people renting homes that seemed just right at first blush but went on to battle militant cockroaches, aggressive mold, and unforeseen costs that the landlord claims are yours to foot. These kinds of experiences have made the journey of finding your first rental rather overwhelming… But actually, it’s possible to find the perfect home first-time round. It just takes a little preparation, and we’ve got the tips to help renters, first-time or not, to confidently find the right home.

Before we begin, we really have to mention the 1 strategy you simply can’t go on without. It’s the key to everything we’re about to unlock for you below. This strategy is doing your own legwork. We can’t stress enough how important it is to devote enough time and research into finding the perfect house or flat to rent.

***Disclosure – This post is sponsored***

What First-time Renters Need To Know

Officially record existing damage and request repairs

It can be hard to argue with your landlord about things you’re convinced were already damaged or faulty before you moved in. It’s far better to officially note down any issues before you sign on the dotted line. We highly recommend that you bring a knowledgeable friend or even a professional to check the place out.

Things you’ll want to check:

  • Check if all the oven plates and the oven light work.
  • Switch on/off all the lights and plug your phone charger into every socket.
  • Check that all taps are working, if the toilet flushes, and if the shower has decent water pressure.
  • Open all cupboards and look for holes or unstable shelves.
  • Check that all doors and windows open/close easily and lock properly.
  • Look to see if there are major cracks on the walls.
  • Turn the ceiling fans on to all speeds to check for rattling or wobbling.
  • Check if the carpets are in good nick.

Confirm the parking rules

Obviously if you’re viewing standalone properties, then this is something you can easily check at the viewing. However, parking rules in complexes and estates aren’t standard and need to be confirmed beforehand. This way you can make sure that there’s enough parking for the number of tenants per unit, as well as visitors’ parking.

Lastly, we urge you to ask if there’s any undercover available so that you can keep your car safe in inclement weather. A hailstorm can seriously damage your car and unless you’ve opted to include hail cover with your car insurance (usually a relatively low fee) you’ll have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.

Don’t forget about water and electricity bills

A lot of the time, we look at the monthly rental fee to determine whether the place is affordable, but it’s super important to add the cost of utilities and any other levies. This way, you have the true cost of living at the rental you’re viewing and can make an informed decision about its affordability.

Our hint here is to ask the previous tenants what they usually pay every month as this should give you the most accurate idea of these costs.

Apartment for rent

Ask about security

There’s no getting around it, in this day and age you need to ask about the crime in the area and the security features of the property. Specifically, you should ask if it’s safe to come home late at night, what the safety features are for your dwelling, and what security in the complex is like. This would mean stuff like access control and guards’ duties.

Oh, and a word to wise, just because you don’t own the home you’re living in, you can still get home contents insurance. Lots of people think that this cover is only for homeowners or that their landlord’s insurance will cover their stuff, but that’s wrong on both accounts. Your stuff is your responsibility and won’t be covered by your landlord’s insurance if something like theft and accidental damage happens. It’s far better to get an affordable home contents insurance policy for all the things you’ve filled your home with and if you’re looking for cover or just want to find out how much you’ll pay, then click here to get a quote.

Ask about pets

You might have pets now or you might want to get a pet later, so it’s kind of a big deal to find out if your prospective property allows furry friends. Obviously, you wouldn’t get rid of Mr Tiddles the Great Dane, so when you find out you’ll just carry on looking elsewhere. But what if you don’t currently have a pet and you neglect to find out? You’ll have to move if you ever want to fill the cat-shaped hole in your heart, unless you’ve had the forethought to find this out before you move in.

We hope that this helps you navigate the ins and outs of renting your first home!

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  1. Wish I found this post before moving into my apartment for the 1st time. To this day I’m still battling with cockroaches.

  2. Its very important to make sure theres no damages or faults…the place we lived in was disgusting…taps leaking…shower head broken…infested with fleas…that was the quickest i moved out…thanks Lynne…for this article

  3. All of those checks are so important. When we first rented our landlord wouldn’t rent out the garage because his car was parked there. I recall us waking up late at night when he came to park his noisy car. At our second rental the landlord wanted us to pay an additional amount (R500 I think) to use the garage. You just need to be very vigilant when going through the lease. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Rather safe than sorry. Also, in our first rental we were accused of drilling 1000’s of holes(for picture frames) in the living room. All of those hooks were there when we moved in. We lost our full deposit because we were accused of damaging the property. Lesson learnt. Now we take tons of photos the moment we do the inspection. Copy all of the photos onto a Word doc with a clear description of what is wrong. It’s overkill I know but we’ve been burnt so we have chosen to learn from it.

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