Tenants should always insist on viewing a property before signing on the dotted line. Besides being able to spot potential issues, you will avoid the risk of falling for rental scams. Not only is signing a lease without viewing the house ill-advised, tenants often run the risk of falling for rental scams when doing so.
Below is a list of things to pay close attention to while viewing a potential house:
1. Doors and windows
Be sure to check that all the doors and windows open and close easily, especially sliding doors! Also, make sure that the doorknobs aren’t wobbly and that the locks work. If any locks are broken or missing, be sure to bring this to the landlord’s attention so that you feel safe should you choose to move in.
2. Walls and floors
While a small crack in the wall isn’t anything to be too concerned about, any crack that you can slide a 50-cent coin into could be a sign of bad structural integrity. In fact, spotting any structural flaws should serve as a warning to rather set your sights elsewhere.
Also, be on the lookout for any water damage or watermarks near the floorboards, on ceilings, and on the walls. Water damage indicates that something is leaking somewhere, which means that mould, mildew, or rot could set in if it hasn’t already. This could pose a serious health risk especially for those prone to allergies or respiratory infections.
Although most houses come unfurnished, it is worthwhile checking that all supplied appliances are in good working order.
Check that the stove plates and/or gas hobs work and that the oven heats up and is free of grease or cooking build-up. Also, be sure to check that the fridge is cold, if one is provided, and if there are a washing machine and tumble dryer, look inside to make sure that these two have been well maintained.
4. Consider your furniture
A common mistake tenants make is signing the rental agreement on a house before checking if their furniture will fit during moving day. One sure way to avoid this is to measure all big-ticket items like beds and couches before viewing the house so that you have an idea of whether it can fit as well as how things can potentially be configured should you choose to move in. It may even be worthwhile taking along a tape measure to measure the floor space for even greater accuracy.
5. Cell phone signal
It might sound unlikely today, but some areas still don’t have the best cell phone reception. With this in mind, take a moment to check your phone’s signal and connectivity during your walkthrough. If the rental includes Wi-Fi, ask the landlord to demonstrate that it works and that it is currently connected with a strong signal.
Living in a country where crime is an everyday concern means that it’s important to get to know the area you could end up living in. Check the security features of the house i.e. is the property access controlled by a guard or does it have an alarm system. It’s also worthwhile finding out where the local police station is and asking them, or even existing tenants, what crime is like in the area. If they are unable to assist, a simple Google search might help give you a good idea of any crime statistics and reports.
If you own a car, parking arrangements should be on your list of things to check out. In many neighbourhoods – especially in the city – street parking can be hard to find or unsafe for both you and your vehicle. Finding an apartment with an inside parking bay is, therefore, a necessity. Remember to ask whether the apartment comes with allocated parking and whether there is an additional cost for this.
Before leaving, take a moment to listen to the neighbourhood and surrounding noise levels. Note how loud the traffic is, whether there are barking dogs or how easy it is to hear your neighbours. If you really like the apartment, try to visit more than once and spend some time in the surrounding neighbourhood during the day and night. You may find that it’s much noisier at night, for example, so this will give you a better idea of what you’re in for.
While these are just some factors to be aware of when flat-hunting, there are many others – like checking for signs of pests, making a note of how easy the apartment was to find, looking at the upkeep of communal areas etc. Considering these factors when viewing potential houses can help you find the right house and ensure that you aren’t caught off-guard later.
Once the rental agreement is signed, you’re in it for the long haul, so, make sure that the apartment you choose doesn’t have any major issues that will make lead to renter’s regret.