The Dos and Donts When Searching for a Rental Online

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Choosing a rental property online requires skill and knowledge, especially since you’re not searching virtually. In many cases, online apartment hunting can be a faster method of renting a house, but not always. Sometimes, this type of method can create problems that go beyond typical ones.

Unfortunately, with online searching, you only see what the landlords what to show you. While pictures can tell some of the story, they don’t show everything you should see. A virtual apartment tour is worth much more, but it’s not always an option for you.

If that’s the case, you must be cautious of the do’s and don’ts when renting online.

So, before you sign a lease and pack up your things, there are some tips you should follow to ensure you find the perfect home, even if it’s not done the traditional way.

Do’s of Renting Sight Unseen

Depending on where you live, you might find many options or a few rental properties online. But how do you know you’re making the right choice? To many, choosing a rental is more than just finding a place to live and having some amenities. That’s why you must adhere to some essential dos before deciding.

Do Your Research

Each year, online apartment rental services in the U.S. experience an increase, and 2023 is no different. From 2018 to 2023, the annual market size growth was 7.9 per cent, meaning many people have started to rely upon online tools to find their rental properties.

However, online doesn’t always bring realistic expectations, incredibly if you have researched enough. Getting as much information as possible is necessary. Initially, you can start by looking at the reviews, checking out the neighbourhood via Google Maps, or contacting potential neighbours who live in the area or building.

Editing is the main reason you shouldn’t rely solely on pictures. Also, the chances of you looking at fake properties are high. Instead, try asking the landlord to send a video tour to give you the best perspective on your future home, so you can take that time to focus on all areas, even the nooks and corners.

Do Find Off-Site Tools

Although an on-site tour is always recommended, sometimes that’s impossible. Whether it’s due to work or other personal circumstances, there are some tools you can use to help your online search.

As mentioned, you shouldn’t depend on a property’s pictures only. Besides asking your landlord for a tour video, you should also ask them for the layout blueprint to check the dimensions.

Suppose you want to aid your online search further by viewing different proposals. In that case, you can use an app to view the property you’re interested in with 360° or video tours. This is an efficient and fast way of digitally going through your potential future home, plus it’s safe.

Additionally, you can get in touch with the landlord via Skype or FaceTime, as this allows you to ask them questions during the ‘’tour.’’

Do Stay Within Your Budget

One of the biggest dos’s you should aim for is to stay within your budget, even if it may seem challenging. Sometimes you may find the perfect property, but it’s probably not worth it if you’re overspending.

As a rule of thumb, you should spend 30 per cent of your income on rent monthly. This works because by spending only 30 per cent, you’re likely to have plenty of money left for other expenses.

However, you should also consider your financial situation because the rule may only work for some. Take time to sort out your budget and start looking for a rental. In the end, stick with what works for you.

Do Read the Lease Agreement

We’ll admit it; reading contracts is no fun, let alone a lease agreement. Statistics show that only 25 per cent of tenants read the lease before signing it. Still, it’s something you should carefully read because it has a significant effect on your life. Doing so gives a clear idea of what it’s expected from you and vice versa.

The lease includes everything, such as:

  • How much notice the landlord gives you before entering your property
  • How do you need to maintain the unit
  • What you’re allowed to do or keep
  • The conditions which could lead to a lease termination

Knowing what you legally agree to is much better than having unpleasant surprises down the road.

Don’ts of Renting Sight Unseen

Now that you know what to do in your next rental hunt, it’s time to tackle the don’ts to prevent future damage. As a first-time renter, you should be aware of many things, but here are the most obvious ones:

Don’t Throw Caution Away

Even if you’ve found the perfect rental and nothing seems sketchy, you shouldn’t throw caution to the wind yet. First, ensure you have the lease agreement in writing so that if something isn’t right, you have proof of what you were promised before moving in.

This may seem unnecessary and excessive, but renting online can be dangerous, not to mention it could save you from renting a place that doesn’t fit your needs and standards.

Don’t Shy Away from Asking Questions

The best renters are the ones who don’t forget to ask questions about their potential home. After all, choosing a place to live is a life-changing decision, so asking many questions is not odd.

When you get in touch with the landlord or management company, you should be able to trust them professionally. Additionally, you can ask them questions such as how and why the previous tenant left the unit or if there have been any recent updates on the property.

If you have a pet or car, ask them whether you can have a pet or a free parking space. Or, if the price doesn’t fit your budget, you can also try negotiating it and ask them if they’re willing to trade something for a lower rent.

Don’t Sign a Long-Term Lease

Renting online is one thing, but signing a long-term lease can be dangerous if you’re not cautious enough. That’s why signing a short-term lease agreement can keep you from a rental you no longer want to live in. Although this type of lease can be more expensive, they’re a better option because you can quit it anytime.

The thing with long-term leases is they don’t allow you to opt out of it immediately. However, if you’re confident you’ve made the right decision, you can ask your landlord to switch to a long-term lease.

Ref: 3335.28793

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