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A renter’s guide: open homes

By George Hadgelias

Choosing a home to rent is rarely easy. First, you need to find one that fits your budget and lifestyle. And then there’s the small matter of negotiating a suffocatingly busy open for inspection. 

Pause to consider how little time each inspection gives you to look around a property, too, and you begin to understand just how difficult the search for a suitable rental can be.

But that’s just how it is. Which is why we came up with this simple checklist of things to look for in a rental property, before signing the lease.

1. Assess the security

Have a look for deadlocks, window locks and other security features. The level of security can make a huge impact on the cost of your insurance.

Before the inspection, make sure to check with your insurance company what security features would impact your policy, so that you know exactly what to look out for while you’re there.

Essentials: What first time renters need to know

2. Look for storage options

Storage can be expensive to buy – especially if, later on, you move to a home that doesn’t need it.

While walking around your potential new rental, look for places where you would store your bike, snowboard, or book collection, and ask yourself, “is there enough internal and external storage for all my important items?”

Also think about whether there is enough pantry space, linen space and areas to store cumbersome cleaning items such as brooms and vacuum cleaners.

3. Check overall cleanliness

A lot of rental properties will likely be leased out in the same condition in which you inspect them.

So, if there’s lots of junk in the shed, and the garden needs weeding, ask the agent if these issues will be addressed before the move-in date.

4. Find out about heating

Ask the agent what heating and cooling systems the property has, find out the specific rooms in which these technologies are available, and make sure that they all work.

Should you detect an issue, enquire if and when it will be addressed.

5. Measure the space

Don’t be afraid to whip out a tape measure at the open for inspection, as this is the best way to work out if your prized dining table and antique bed can fit through the door of your potential new home.

6. Check the positions of power points

The location of the television antenna, power points, telephone and Foxtel outlets will likely impact how you can lay out your home.

So, make sure that you’re happy with their positioning.

7. Check there’s enough room for white goods

Check that there is space in the kitchen for your fridge, for your dishwasher, and for any other appliances that you like to set out on the bench.

See if your washing machine and dryer will fit in the laundry, too, or enquire if they come with the property. If you like to drip dry your clothes, work out whether the laundry provides enough space for that.

8. Don’t forget the garden

Ask whether the apartment or house comes with a gardener. If it doesn’t, have a look in the garden to see what kind of maintenance it requires.

If you happen to have a green thumb and want to set up a veggie garden, ask if you would be able to do that, too.

9. Ask about gas and electricity

Do you prefer gas or electricity?

This really is a personal choice. Some people prefer gas cooking, while others prefer induction hobs.

Whichever your preference, make sure you find out what’s available.

Other things to consider

  • Does the property have roller doors or shutters? Check whether they are electronic or manual.
  • If the property comes with car parking, find out exactly how many spaces. If it doesn’t, look at the local parking signage to work out whether you’d need a permit.
  • If in doubt about anything, ask the agent. Avoid making assumptions, as this may lead to headaches later on.

Click here for more information.

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