1. Be Prepared.
If certain rental properties are in high demand and are selective in renting or leasing to applicants, you will gain a competitive edge by having the following information with you: a completed rental application; written references from landlords, employers, friends and/or colleagues; and a current copy of your credit report.
2. Read Carefully.
Carefully review all the important conditions of the tenancy before you sign on the dotted line. Your lease or rental agreement may contain a provision that you find unacceptable, such as restrictions on guests or pets, design alterations or running a home business.
3. Get Copies.
To avoid misunderstandings, keep copies of any correspondence with the landlord and follow up any oral agreements with a letter, outlining your understanding. For example, if you ask your landlord to make repairs, put your request in writing and keep a copy for yourself. If he or she agrees orally, send a letter confirming this fact.
4. Get Covered.
Purchase renters’ insurance to cover your valuables. Your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your losses.
5. Ensure Safety.
Learn whether the building and neighborhood you are considering are safe. Get copies of any state or local laws that require safety devices such as deadbolts and window locks; check out the property’s vulnerability to intrusion by a criminal, and learn whether criminal incidents have already occurred.