How to find the perfect rental…without the stress

June 16, 2015

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With so many rental properties and plenty of competition, finding the perfect rental can seem stressful and even frustrating at times. We look at how you can find that ideal property…without the stress.

1. Draw up a budget

Before you run the risk of browsing listings and falling in love with a property you can’t afford, it’s helpful to take a good look at your current financial situation. What percentage of your income are you willing to spend on housing? As a general rule, it’s recommended to limit your housing costs to no more than 30 percent of your income. In addition to rent, don’t forget that you’ll need to work the cost of utilities, parking, furnishings, and other fees into your budget. By factoring in these costs in advance, you can avoid stressful sticker shock or disappointment down the road.

2. Make a list of must-have features

With a general price range in mind, the next step to narrow down your choices is to make a list of what’s most important to you in a property. For example, if you have children you’ll probably want to live near a park and good schools, and you may want access to a garden. Size and location are the major factors to consider, but further features on your wish list could include everything from a full bathtub to a fireplace. Bring your list of desirable features with you as you attend inspections, so that you can tick them off the list and have some basis for comparison.

3. Get your paperwork in order ahead of time

One of the most stressful parts of finding a rental property is undoubtedly the application process. You can smooth this over by gathering as much information as possible in advance, so that you’re ready to act quickly when you find the ideal property. Gather the following documents:

• Photo ID
• Proof of income such as letter from employer
• Copy of tax return for self-employed applicants
• Bank statements

The landlord will most likely run a credit check as part of the application process, so if you haven’t checked your credit score recently it’s wise to do so. This way, if there are any errors you’ll have time to dispute them.

4. Consider hiring a broker

If you are short on time and really want to take all the stress out of your search, consider hiring a broker. Brokers can sift through all the listings on your behalf to narrow down the field to the most promising properties. A broker can also streamline the application process for you and potentially negotiate savings on rent. However, you can expect to pay a hefty cut for this service.

5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Finally, remember that you have some power in this situation and landlords are often willing to negotiate. For example, if you fall in love with a property and really want to secure it, try offering a slightly higher rental price. You can also negotiate many aspects of the lease, asking for the landlord to carry out repairs before you move in or throwing in perks such as free parking.

There’s stiff competition in the rental market, but with a bit of advance preparation you stand an excellent chance of finding and securing the perfect property.

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