When you are looking for a house to rent, you are making a big commitment and a decision that will have significant impact on your family. Here are some things to consider before you sign a lease.

Know your landlord

Your landlord may have the greatest impact on your experience renting a home. If something goes wrong, you want to know she'll take care of it. Be sure to check her out carefully. If your landlord owns multiple properties you may be able to find this kind of information on-line. Google the name of the landlord. If not, ask the landlord for references.

Check the condition

Be sure that the home is in acceptable condition before you sign a lease or pay lots of money. Be cautious if the home is occupied and you are not able to do a proper inspection before committing.

Consider the location

Where your home is located will impact your life in myriad ways. Consider all of the following:

  • How far to schools? Can the kids walk? Does the school provide busing?

  • Where is the nearest grocery store? Can you walk?

  • How far to the nearest public transit location? Can you walk?

  • Where is the nearest house of worship that you'd attend?

  • Parks add value to your neighborhood and your lifestyle. How far to the nearest one? What shape is it in?

  • How long is your commute? One of the great things about renting is that you can easily choose to live near your job.

Read the lease carefully

While most leases have many things in common, leases are not all the same. Be sure you understand everything in the lease. You not only want to know when the rent is due, but how the landlord expects to receive it. You'll want to know if late fees are applied, and when. You may also have responsibility for taking care of the yard. There may be limitations on decorating. You can avoid being surprised simply by carefully reading and understanding the lease. If you have questions, ask them!

Compare the rent carefully

Before you lease a home, be sure to compare the proposed rent to other homes in the same vicinity and of the same size. You may be surprised to learn that what you thought was a great deal, isn't so great when you compare it carefully to others in the neighborhood.

Seek a place that will help you buy

When choosing a rental, look carefully at your budget to be sure that you can continue saving to buy a home. There are lots of good reasons to rent instead of owning (like if you are sure to move in less than five years). Still, one of your top financial priorities should be to buy a home. Make sure your rental arrangement allows for that.

Simply considering all of these factors carefully when you rent can help you to have a much more positive experience in your next home for everyone in your family.

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