For those who are renting or looking to rent, now is the ideal time to make a move and to start afresh: according to statistics, a higher number of rentals become available during September and October, while the warmer weather makes the house-hunt so much more pleasant.

If you’re looking to find a new dream rental, make sure you follow these eight tips – that’ll help you find that perfect apartment or house to rent!

1. Figure out what you want

House or apartment hunting might seem like a fun idea, but it can turn into your worst nightmare when you’ve viewed what feels like a hundred places and haven’t been able to find something you like. Instead, make a list of the top three ‘musts’ or ‘non-negotiables’ that the rental should have. It can be anything from good natural light, two bathrooms, being close to schools, or a neighbourhood close to work. This way you can skip viewing homes that don’t meet your preferences.  

2. Determine what you can afford

While we all have ideas of what our dream rental should look like, it’s important to be realistic, especially when it comes to what you can afford. It’s recommended that your monthly rent should not exceed 20% to 30% of your monthly income. To find out what you can really afford, draw up a basic budget by subtracting your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Once you know what you have to work with, try to find something that meets it, as well as those non-negotiable wants.

3. Look in the right places

Often times agents and landlords advertise on community groups on Facebook and you can use this as a starting point while doing more intensive searches on property portals like MyProperty to help you find a place – rental agents usually have a large database of available properties that can be cross-matched to your budget and non-negotiable wants. It’s also a good idea to network through friends and family; you never know who might have a good tip for you.

4. Uncover hidden costs

Hurrah, you’ve found a dream space that’s within your budget! But, before you sign and seal the deal, make sure you know about any additional costs that might come your way. Here are a few things to consider and discuss with the landlord or rental agent:  

  • What will your deposit be?
  • Is water included in the rent?
  • Is there free parking or do you have to rent a bay?
  • Are Fibre or ADSL cables installed?
  • Are any of these costs included? 

5. Envision it as your home

Let your imagination run wild in your potential new (dream) home: think, about how your furniture would look and fit in the space. More importantly, measure key pieces as well as doors and walls to ensure that everything will fit. So often people fall in love with the space without considering what it would look like once their belongings are in – the last thing you want is to find a perfect home and, then, realise that it doesn’t actually suit you.

6. Get inside information

Finding the right rental home isn’t just about finding the right house or apartment that’s to rent – it’s also all about the neighbourhood. Spend some time driving through the streets and get to know the area better, during the day and at night. You might find out that there is a huge amount of morning traffic caused by the school in the neighbourhood or that the seemingly quiet area transforms into a very loud and busy place over weekends.

7. Do an initial check 

Before you even consider signing on the dotted line, make sure the house or apartment suits your practical needs. Things to pay attention to include:

  • Adequate plumbing points in the kitchen, will both your washing machine and dishwasher fit?
  • Do the kitchen and living area have enough plug points? 
  • Will your fridge fit properly in the kitchen?
  • Is there pre-paid electricity or is it billed? 
  • Does the shower have adequate water pressure?

These are things you can change fairly easily when buying a home, but when renting, these are things you will have to live with.  

8. Be prepared 

When it comes to rentals, you need to move fast: the good, affordable homes are usually swooped up in hours! It’s always a good idea to make sure you have all the necessary documentation and paperwork ready, long before you start the house-hunt – in case you find the perfect rental on the first look:

  • Ask the rental agent or landlord for an application form, and fill it out prior to your viewing,
  • Get three months bank statements and/or proof of income (salary slips) printed and certified,
  • Make certified copies of your ID,
  • Have reference letters from previous landlords ready to show