Rental vacancy is pretty low at the moment, and that can lead to some desperation when it comes to finding a place to lay down our weary heads. My brother sleeps in a lounge room which, until recently, still had the last tenant’s stuff piled in the corner. I used to live in an apartment with holes in the roof and downstairs neighbours that did continuously shifty deals and paid for our electricity as they wouldn’t allow us to check the property metre. Which was great in winter, as no one had to worry too much about the heating. Except that it constantly escaped through the holes in the ceilings.
It might seem like renting a run-down place might be a cheaper option. Chances are, however, you’ll find yourself staying out late at night to avoid the rats in the ceiling or wasting money trying to repair things yourself because your landlord refuses. Far easier to move somewhere that is comfortable and well-maintained. Here’s how to pick it.
Inspect In Pairs
When I first started renting, my mum came with me to check out the place. She asked about powerpoints, I ignored her. For the next six months, I had extension cords running everywhere and a power board that blew every time I used the kettle and a lamp. Bring someone with you when inspecting a property, they can give you a good idea of the things you might miss, and talk to the real estate agent while you actually have a look at the place. It’s also important in order to have a witness. If the real estate agent promises something will be fixed, you have a witness to confirm the offer if they don’t come through.
Know What You Need
If you have lots of tools that need to be stored, you’re going to need a shed or a garage. You’re going to need powerpoints, heating that doesn’t pump gas back into the room, doors that close properly. It’s easy to think it won’t bother you, but give it a couple of months, and you’ll be frustrated. When inspecting, make your own list on conditions and discuss which you would expect to be repaired by the landlord. If they can’t give you that promise, then can you live with the issue for the next year or so?
Chat To The Current Tenants
I tend to disappear quickly whenever a place is being inspected, but if the tenant is around, it’s a great idea to have a chat to them. What are the little issues (and every place has them) and can they be fixed? Does the landlord tend to respond quickly to complaints, or does it take 50 phone calls and a threat of a Tenancy Agency discussion? You want your place to be liveable and the relationship with real estate agent and landlord to be effective, and previous tenants can give you the best idea of that.
Take 5 Minutes
You’ve walked around, you’ve had a quick talk to the tenants and you like the place. Before committing to anything, take 5 minutes to sit down and get a feel for it. Go back to whatever issues you might have noticed and have a second look. Preferably you’ll be spending a fair bit of time, and maybe a couple of years, in rental so it has to be both comfortable and functional.
Bring Everything With You
After the first couple of inspections, you’ll realise it’s a tough world and you need to be prepared when inspecting a place. If you’ve fallen in love with a place, be prepared to move quickly. Grab an application off an agent and fill it out then. If you’ve got your references, checks and income information, you’ll be able to submit the application immediately to the agent.