Tips for first time renters

You can’t afford to buy a house yet so your option for now is to rent. Maybe you are fed up with waking up very early for the daily long commute. Or you are about to start a new life together with your partner away from your in-laws. Regardless of the reasons, making the right choice is crucial for an enjoyable way of life.

Here are some tips to consider before leasing a property.

Understand needs and wants

What are your reasons for leasing a property?  Knowing your objectives greatly helps with your planned rental.  These reasons could either be addressing needs, wants, or both.  Examples of needs include having ample time to bring the kids to their schools before proceeding to the office.  Examples of wants include locating close to the grocery, parks, transportation hub, school and health care centers.

Know your financial capacity and obligations

While the rent is a major factor in your decision, it is only one aspect of your financial considerations. 

Most lessors charge advance payments and security deposits, totaling three to six months of rent. How much of these deposits will be returned? Will it be credited as part of last few months’ rent or returned only after the lease term ends and after your lessor will have determined that there is no damage on the property?

Who is responsible for monthly association or condo dues? Is it included in your rent or will you be required to shell out another amount? Will you be required to pay it through your lessor or directly to the housing association or condo corporation?

A clear understanding of your earning capacity as well as your would-be financial obligations like upfront cash requirements, moving-in costs, monthly rents and running bills are essential so you do not overcommit and underperform.

Know more about the neighborhood

The web is filled with rental sites and apps that advertise houses and condo units for lease. In addition, brokers and agents carry huge inventories. Relatives, friends and colleagues may have referral properties too. 

Prior to making any commitment, make sure to check them out. A good neighborhood is essential in keeping you and your family safe. You will never know what to expect until you have actually been there and checked it out yourself.

With fresh experiences of lockdowns and impaired mobility, being close to nearby supermarkets, public transportation hubs or routes, tertiary health care facilities, and pocket parks is now crucial to a safe and healthy lifestyle.

Ask about water pressure and power interruptions. With efficient communication and tele-education being major considerations these days, check your phones if they have good signals on-site. Inquire if the cable television and fiber cable internet services are readily available in the area.

If you plan to lease a condo unit, find out who is the developer and property manager of the development. Do not forget to ask around about the reputation of your potential lessor.

Check out the available amenities. Is the condo development provided with separate lap and children’s pools, kid’s playground, private theater, and free Wi-Fi lounge? Are there enough function rooms of varying sizes for the residents?  Are they enough to service the community’s needs without having to queue up for long? Are the amenities’ use free or does it require payment per use? How are the building’s repairs and maintenance records?

If possible, visit it at night or after the rain to check if there are unusual noises or if flooding can be observed.  Check online for reported crimes in the property’s vicinity.

How was your visit? Were the guards alert and attentive when you entered their premises? Did you have any difficulty maneuvering your car as you drove into the property? Were there any dark areas in the premises that made you feel uncomfortable?

Inspect the unit

While choosing the best location cannot be understated, the house or condo unit and its attendant elements and features will affect your lifestyle as you start in a new environment. Feng Shui believers should be concerned with door orientation, corridor placements, availability of gardens, etc. Lessees with cars should inquire about parking slots availability. The security conscious renters should ask about the availability of CCTVs and safety features.

Fixtures in good working conditions plus overall cleanliness give you the impression that the place is being taken care of by the owner, and that repairs and maintenance may not be impending problems that you will encounter after moving in.

Go over each potential property meticulously. Take note of your observations. Remember, an excellent understanding of the property’s pros and cons are imperative in order to make your selection easy.

Understand the lease contract terms

Make sure you are comfortable with the proposed Lease Contract. Discuss, negotiate the terms and conditions, and document it properly. If you have a pet or intend to get one, inquire with the lessor or the condo corporation if it is allowed. If you wish to share the rent with your officemates, ask if sub-letting that extra room is allowed, otherwise you will be bound by the lease provisions per the Civil Code of the Philippines. 

Good luck with your search!

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Henry L. Yap is an architect, environmental planner, real estate practitioner and former professorial lecturer.