19 Things Everyone Should Know Before Renting A House

~ these are based in Australia, but these are very good tips for CA as well. You can go to this link to find your tenant rights in each county in CA ~

19 Things Everyone Should Know Before Renting A House

The last thing you want is to be living in a house with dodgy blinds and no powerpoints.

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1. Check where all the power points are around the house.

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There is nothing worse than moving into a new place and realising that all the power points are on one side of the house, or that there are none next to where you were planning on putting your TV.

2. And check that there’s a phone line and TV aerial port.

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Landlords are technically supposed to let you know if there isn’t a landline connection to the property, but it’s always good to double check for yourself. If there’s not, it’ll be a lot harder and pricier for you to get internet.

3. Find out if you’ll be paying the water bill.

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The laws vary from state to state, but in most apartments, the landlord pays the water bills. Though if you’re renting a house, it may come down to you to pay it. Make sure that the water meter is fitted with an efficiency device, because if the landlord can’t prove that the property is water efficient, you don’t have to pay the bills.

4. Check out the parking situation.

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If there’s no off-street parking, find out if you’ll need a permit to park on the street, and suss out how hard it is to park in the area.

5. Do a little research on the area.

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If you can, come back and see the property at night. Is is right next to an all-night rave that you missed during the day? Or is there a lot of foot traffic which would potentially be a noise issue for you? Also find out what the public transport is like, you don’t want to be stuck in a suburb that has no buses on Sundays.

6. Find out if you can have pets.

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Even if you don’t have a dog, but you think you might want one sometime soon, it’s good to know what the rules are for the building you’re in. On the other hand, if you’re allergic to cat hair, maybe you’d prefer to be in a building where animals are banned.

7. Check that all the windows open.

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Also check all the cupboards and drawers to make sure there’s no issues there.

8. Make sure you’re not being charged too much.

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Again, laws vary by state, but in most places, your bond can’t legally exceed four weeks’ rent. And you can’t be asked to pay more than two weeks’ rent in advance. Google “tenant rights + [your state]” to make sure you’re not being asked for too much.

9. And take a day or two to properly read the lease.

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It might be tempting to just sign the lease and get the keys ASAP, but ask your landlord or real estate agent if you can take it away and give it a proper read-through. Ask a mate to read through it as well just to make sure you’re not getting yourself into anything you’re not up for.

10. Actually go through the condition report, and check EVERYTHING.

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It’s all well and good to give it a quick skim through and sign it, but before you start moving your stuff in, make sure you really go through the property and check everything off. Take photos and detailed notes of any issues you find, even if the landlord has already noted it.

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11. Know what things you don’t have to pay for.

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If repairs need to be done to the property, contact your landlord ASAP and they have to arrange for it to be fixed. If the repairs are needed urgently, you can’t get in contact with your landlord, and end up paying for it yourself, they have to reimburse you.

12. But you have to pay for things like lightbulbs and smoke alarm batteries.

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13. In some states, there is a limit to how many times rent can be increased in a year.

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Make sure you know what applies to you. Also, you need to be given written warning of the increase 60 days prior to it happening.

14. Know your privacy rights.

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The landlord or real estate agent can’t enter your property without giving you written notice beforehand.

15. Deal with mould ASAP.

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A sad fact of living in most places in Australia is that you might end up with a mould infestation. If you notify your landlord right away, and make every effort to minimise risk (eg moving clothes out of a mould-infested cupboard), they have to arrange for its removal. If a room becomes unlivable due to mould, you can apply for a rent reduction.

16. Always put all correspondence with your landlord in writing.

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Follow up any phone calls with an email, just so you have proof of your exchange.

17. You can find sample letters online if you need to raise an issue with your landlord, but don’t know how to go about it.

Find some here.

18. If you’re planning to move out early for any reason, do research to avoid fees for breaking your lease.

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In most cases, you have to give at least 14 days notice. Some landlords will allow you to break a lease if you find someone else to move in and take over the lease.

19. And do everything you can to get your full bond back.

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As issues come up while you’re living in the house (eg a broken shower door, a drawer that sticks, a scratch on the floor), make sure you take photos and tell your landlord or real estate agent straight away. If you don’t want to hire end-of-lease cleaners, follow a checklist to make sure you’ve got everything. When they do their final inspection, make sure you’re there in case something comes up.

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