Renting a house is an excellent way to test out the neighborhood and type of house.  Finding an available home, reviewing the lease conditions, settling on an agreement and negotiating a security deposit can be a complex process.  Here are a few tips to help on your journey.

1. Credit Report. This will be the number one factor in whether or not you’re qualified to rent a home. While some landlords may be lax, others will be strict with “good” ratings.  Be sure to tell your real estate agent if you are having issues with your credit.  Especially identity theft, medical debt, or anything else that may put a mark on your credit report.  Sometimes, talking through problems with your landlord will be all that’s needed to get their approval.

2. Review the Lease. Have your real estate agent carefully look over the leasing contract before you sign. Be sure to note any restrictions on guests, pets, cars, or running a home-based business.

3. Writing is key. If the landlord verbally agrees to add missing appliances or major fixes, be sure to get this information added to the lease. Verbal agreements are difficult to prove in court, so protect yourself from future stress.

4. Right to enter clarification. Be clear in the contract on when the landlord can and cannot enter the property without your permission.

5. Talk to your landlord or property manager. Communicate with your landlord if there’s a problem. If repairs are happening too slowly or you are unhappy, make this known.  The landlord needs to be aware of problems if he or she is supposed to fix them.

6. Purchase renters insurance. Your landlord’s insurance policy will only cover damage to the house in the event of theft or damage. It will not cover your belongings inside the home.  Renters’ insurance also covers you if you’re sued by someone who claims to be injured in your rental due to your carelessness.  Renters’ insurance is typically inexpensive and can cover a large amount of circumstances.

7. Security deposit. To protect yourself and avoid any misunderstandings, make sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the use and refund of security deposits, including allowable deductions. When you move in, do a walk-through with the landlord to record existing damage to the premises on a move-in statement or checklist.