If you don't have a rental horror story you're one of the lucky ones. Just about everyone has experienced a landlord's unfilled promises of repairs, neighbors that play loud music until 4am, or that peculiar smell that comes out of the heating vent. So when you're shopping for a rental, what are some of the important things to look out for? Our experts have put together a quick list to make sure your dream rental doesn't turn into a nightmare.
1. Be hyper-vigilant in your walk through. Sometimes it's easy to get swept up in granite counter tops, back patios and bay windows, but don't forget about the little things like water pressure, plumbing and fixtures. When temperatures fall below freezing in December, you're going to want to make sure the heat works well and there is plenty of hot water.
2. Ask about the neighborhood guidelines, including parking rules, snow removal and trash schedules. Many places in and around Boston have street cleaning, snow removal and other city ordnances that may affect you, so it's important to find out about schedules, protocols for weather situations, etc., particularly if you're new to the area and are unfamiliar with these types of processes.
3. Listen closely for freeway or other road traffic - and remember it will be much louder during rush hour. Is there a train that runs nearby? How far away is the closest grocery store or T stop? These are all things that the landlord might not share with you, but will inevitably impact the comfort of your living environment.
4. If the landlord isn't thorough, and doesn't seem to have a formal process for securing renters, be wary. Just think, if they don't do their due diligence with you, then they likely don't spend much time taking care of their rental property. The reference check, credit check and seemingly incessant questioning might seem like a nuisance at the time, but it's a sign that the landlord cares about their home, which likely means they've taken good care of it. Even better if they're using a broker, as this indicates a commitment to finding good, responsible tenants for a home they clearly care about.
5. Ask the landlord about their maintenance processes, including pest control and major appliances. Do they have a procedure in place for making repairs, or does it seem like they'll just wing it? Many landlords have specific vendors that they use while others might have a family member who works as a local handyman. When the air conditioner sputters and dies on the hottest day in July, it will be good to know that your landlord has a plan in place to fix the problem thoroughly and expeditiously.
There's a lot of competition for good rentals in and around Boston, so when you find a place that seems perfect, it's understandable to feel pressure to get the papers signed. Make a standard list of questions to take with you on your walk through, and add to it as you notice things around the home. Making a hasty decision without knowing what exactly you're getting into can cost you big, so be informed, be prepared and most importantly, listen to your gut if something doesn't seem quite right. For more advice on finding a great rental property in the city, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, 617- 236-0353