Anyone who has ever rented a property will agree that the process of finding a good rental home is not easy.
First, one must sift through all the property ads (often with outdated photos and/or inaccurate agent descriptions). Then, after creating a shortlist of hopefuls and inspection times that work, you embark on the inevitable race around town attending inspections, sometimes in areas you are unfamiliar with, often on a Saturday in traffic, and competing with many other prospective renters who are just as stressed and keen as you are. To top it off, you often have no more than 10 or 15 minutes to make an accurate assessment of the property before submitting your application - or risk missing out!
Is it any wonder that in such circumstances important observations get missed or the right questions aren’t asked? One of the most common disappointments when starting a new lease is that things aren’t as you had hoped (or remembered) or that you wish you had asked/checked something that was important to you. Well, the best way to avoid this is to be prepared! So, to help make things a little easier, we have listed 10 important items to confirm, based on the experience of our relocation consultants who inspect rental properties on behalf of clients regularly.
1. Check the Dimensions
Do bring along a tape measure and don’t be afraid to take quick measurements of room sizes if you have awkward or larger furniture items. There is nothing worse than moving into a property and finding out that your king bed or oversized dining table does not fit through a doorway or around a tight corner. If you have a larger double door fridge, check that it will fit into the fridge space in the kitchen. Make sure the laundry will accommodate your washing machine and dryer. If you like to air dry your clothes, check that there is space in the laundry area or a clothesline is installed. Will your car fit in the garage?
It is also worthwhile considering how larger items will be moved into the home, because if entry doors are narrow, lifts to apartments are small or there are lots of stairs, you may run into problems and incur unexpected additional moving costs.
2. Is there Enough Storage?
Renting or buying more storage space is expensive as well as being an extra hassle, so check that the property has adequate storage for your needs. If you have bikes, surfboards, toys, lots of suitcases etc make sure that there is a secure external area to store these items. Many inner-city apartments have bike storage areas in garage areas but only a lucky few will have storage cages in the garage and building by-laws may prevent the storage of items in communal garage areas. Many Queenslander houses have under house storage, but they may not be fully secure or protected from the weather. Check: is there enough cupboard and pantry space in the kitchen for all your gadgets and enough wardrobe space in the bedrooms?
3. What is the state of the appliances?
Getting non-urgent repairs done at a rental property can take a ridiculously long time, depending on your property manager. Assess how old the appliances seem to be (the older they are the more likely problems will arise), including air conditioning units, ceiling fans oven, stovetop. Check that they are all working properly and, if there are issues, find out when they will be addressed.
Before you start inspecting properties check with your insurance provider what security features would impact your contents policy. Deadbolts, security screens, window locks and other features may help reduce your policy costs so check what security features properties have during your inspection.
5. Streetscape, Construction and Neighbours
Don’t neglect checking out the neighbouring properties. Do they overlook the property? Are there noisy barking dogs next door? Is there a construction site nearby? Is the street a commuter’s ‘rat-run’ or next to a school with busy pick up and drop off traffic?
6. Window coverings
A local tip - remember that it gets light before 5am in Brisbane in December! So check that blinds / curtains are installed and will keep out the sun until you are ready to wake up as well as keeping the heat out during the day.
7. Extra expenses (water, phone and internet connections)
Make sure you ask the agent if water is included in the rent or not as this can be an unexpected expense down the track. If internet speed and connections are important confirm what is available at the property by looking up the address online. If you require a home phone, check that a phone line is installed. If you want Foxtel, ask if this is installed already or, if not, that the owner will allow you to have it installed.
8. Gardens and Maintenance
Typically, tenants are responsible for gardening – including weeding, regular mowing and trimming of smaller hedges, watering plants and lawns and removing garden waste. So, do consider how easy the garden will be to maintain and make sure that you consider how much time this will take and if you have the all the tools required. If you have a pet or children, check: is the garden secure?
9. Gas or Electricity?
Some people prefer gas and others electricity, for cooking. It is a personal preference. You may be able to work this out from photos or advertising prior to the inspection but do confirm what is available at the property when you inspect. Remember that, if the hob is induction, make sure your pots and pans will work.
10. Cleanliness and overall State of the Property
Many properties will be shown empty and will be leased out in the condition they are in when you inspect. If the garden is overgrown, there are items under the house or in the shed, or the property is dusty and full of dead bugs, do ask the real estate agent to fix these issues before your move in date. If you have any concerns or if you require any repairs / maintenance / additional amenities raise these items with the agent.
Keep in mind that these are just some important items to check and there are certainly other important items to consider. Some practical advice - take a list of items to check with you and tick them off as you go and make notes as you need to (because you will forget!). Property inspections can be very busy, particularly on Saturdays, and it is very easy to get distracted with all the activity and, after multiple inspections, it is easy confuse one property with the next.
Our local consultants can look at every property with an experienced and critical eye so as to identify issues before and during property inspections, saving you time and worry. Do not hesitate to contact us should you need help with your property search.