Whether you are considering renting a house, apartment or condo, there are many questions you need to get answered ahead of time. Before beginning your rental search, make a list of questions about things that are important to you and take it with you when you look at a potential rental. Getting the answers to your questions ahead of time will avoid any future “surprises”.

Location, Location, Location
Where is the rental located? Is it closer to work or further away? Is it in a quiet bedroom community when you prefer a more metro area? Is it near busy shopping centers that won’t allow you easy access in or out of the driveway? Is it near the good schools you’re looking for? Carefully consider how your lifestyle might be altered when choosing a location.

What is the monthly rent?
Calculate what you can afford for rent and look for rentals within your budget. Be sure to consider other expenses outside of just the monthly rental fee. Will there be any maintenance fees? How about added expenses if you have pets or additional parking fees for more than one parking space? Will there be move in fees? Will you be required to have renter’s insurance? Will utilities be included? Will a security deposit will be required? Are there extra fees for guests? Will you need to purchase any appliances?

What are the terms of the lease?
Leases can sometimes look intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from reading every word and clarifying anything you may not understand. What happens if you break your lease? Will you be able to decorate? What system is in place if emergency repairs are needed? What about potential rent increases? You may be able to negotiate parts of the lease, with the agreement of the landlord of course, but be certain to get any agreements in writing with signatures of all concerned parties.

Is the area/building safe?
It goes without saying that safety is high up on the list when considering where to live. Is there a security system and/or fire protection system? Is the parking area close and well lighted? What is the neighborhood like? Are there working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Is the rental near a main road with high traffic? What is the condition of the building? Is the rental near a flood zone? Find out the answers and be comfortable with the all of them before considering signing a lease.

Does it have the amenities you want?
Does the building have the pool, indoor gym or closet space you absolutely can’t live without? If not, move on. You may regret settling for less than you wanted down the road.

Chances are you will be living in your new place for a long time, so make sure you ask as many questions as necessary to help find the perfect rental for you. Take a friend with you for a second opinion when you look at a rental; another set of eyes and ears may see or hear something you might miss.

Working with a REALTOR® can help you find a suitable rental property; a local real estate agent will know the community and neighborhoods, as well as the features and history of their properties, and can help you decipher lease terms more easily.