16 Things to Check Out Before Renting a House: Download Checklist

Perhaps you’ve never rented a house before and don’t know how to go about – What to look for? What to be aware of? If you’re in this situation and are wondering how to acquaint yourself with all the dos and don’ts, read on to find out what you should know before you accept a place on rent. After all, you’re paying good money for it.

At the end of this is list is a 2-page checklist you can print and carry around on your house hunting trips.

1. Mobile network availability.

Photo of the Speedtest result page

Speedtest result page

Check if you’ve got a good signal on your phone. And while you’re on it don’t forget to test internet speeds. Speedtest.net is a reliable website to check the download and upload rate.

2. Broadband service.

Mobile internet isn’t always reliable and so you might need a wired broadband service. We recommend the newer and faster fiber based connections but since they aren’t available in all areas, it’s best to enquire beforehand. Call the providers customer care, quoting the address of the property.

3. Find out about earlier occupants.

You wouldn’t want to stay in a murder house, now, would you? It could also be that the occupants before you had trouble with others and you don’t want to get caught up in that mess. Be sure about your predecessors by inquiring with the neighbours.

Pro Tip: Landlords are required to verify the tenants with the Police.

There have been various instances of police arresting landlords for not verifying their tenants with the police. While it isn’t of much use to you as the tenant, urge your house owner to do this as it could be a trust-building exercise.

To get this done you need to download an application form from the local police department website, fill it in and submit it back to them in person. If you can’t find it online you could walk into your local police station and ask them for the form.

Every department provides their own form but we found most of them to be similar as they ask for the same details. Don’t take our word for it, but we think the form available on the Delhi police website should work everywhere.

4. Water trouble.

When you check out the house, run the water taps to know the pressure of water. Also, ask the neighbours if they get water 24 hours or not. Look out for plumbing problems and ask if there’s a plumber on call or one that visits the building often.

5. Electricity supply.

Is there a 24-hour electricity supply at the flat and whether power backup is available. If so, for how many hours? Also, look out for hanging wires and malfunctioning switches.

6. Guest Policy.

Is it okay to have overnight guests? If yes, how many are okay and for how long?

It is good to know what your landlord thinks on this subject right at the outset. This is especially important in the case of unmarried people – you wouldn’t want your overly conservative landlord at your doorstep in the middle of the night, right?

7. Pet policy.

Are your furry friends allowed in the building? If you have one or wish to have one, then you know you can’t consider living here, so it’s necessary to ask beforehand.

8. Know thy neighbor.

It might be a good idea to drop in on your prospective neighbours to get an idea of the type of people who are going to live around you. If you’re like-minded, that would be great.

9. Is the neighbourhood safe?

Does the building management offer any security personnel for round-the-clock duty? Speak to the neighbours about it, they’re sure to know.

You can also google the name of the locality to get an idea of the crime rate. Most police stations update crime data daily on their website and twitter.

Pro Tip: Change all the main locks as soon as you move into a new place

People make copies of keys and give them to friends and family but sometimes forget to inform them when they move out. Now, unless you want strangers dropping in while you are chilling in your underwear or want your stuff gone while you are away get them replaced as soon as you move in.

10. Find out rent rates in the neighbourhood.

You can even do it online using websites like Quikr and OLX. Once you have an idea of the rates here, you can use it to drive a hard bargain.  Ask what the maintenance charges are per month and whether the owner will provide his PAN details so that you can claim tax exemption.

11. Can you make changes to the house?

If yes, to what extent can you make changes to the flat? Can you drive nails into walls? Repaint? Install cabinets? If any changes are allowed does the landlord need to the house restored to it original condition while vacating? Sort this out with your landlord before you take the house.

12. Does it get noisy, dusty or smelly?

Another aspect to check out is whether the house is located on a busy street that gets dusty and noisy? Also, check for sources of noise like party halls, clubs, construction sites, etc. To find out, visit the site at different times–and yes, be aware for bad smells that could indicate the presence of a garbage dump in the vicinity. Then, decide if you still want to live here.

13. Is parking available?

Ask your landlord how many vehicles you can park in the parking lot. Do you need to pay extra for parking? Ask to be shown the parking spot and make sure you have easy access in and out the building.

14. Are the things you need close-by?

A picture of Google maps listing showing nearby ATMs

Google maps listing showing nearby ATMs

Look around you and see if there are malls, hospitals, petrol stations, schools, restaurants, ATMs and public transportation conveniently located near the house you’re looking at.

If you don’t want to go around and look for these things, open up google maps and easily search for them.

15. Walk through the property with the landlord.

You like what you see and you’ve made the decision to take the house. We recommend that you do one last thing – walk through the house along with the landlord and let him know what you think is the condition of the flat. This way, you both will know the problems at the time of taking it over and there won’t be any trouble when you vacate.

For safety’s sake, make a video of all that you see in the flat and point out the faults in there so that you’re not blamed or charged for not maintaining the flat well.

16. Rent agreement

When you’ve finally decided to take the house it is important that you enter into a rent agreement with the landlord. Everything that you decide should be recorded in the agreement. Everything including rent, security deposit, maintenance, repairs, parking, insurance and pet rules must be put into it. Don’t agree to anything orally, it will keep you from any trouble later.

Fun Fact: Why is the rent agreement commonly made for 11 months and not 12?

Rental agreements are usually made for 11 months and not 12 only to bypass registering the rental agreement. According to the Registration Act, 1908, property on lease for a year or more must be registered and a stamp duty and registration fee must be paid to the government.

By making an 11-month rental agreement, both landlord and tenant skirt paying stamp duty to the government.

Download a free 3-page checklist of all these points

We’ve put together a printer friendly checklist of all these points which you can carry around on your house hunting trips. As you find out more about your prospective home, tick them off on your checklist or make notes.

Happy house hunting!

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