leasesignThis is our third move in three years and with each one I learn something new. Since we were used to being homeowners, the world of renting seemed ambiguous and scary. Here are the top 5 things we’ve learned to check before accepting a rental and signing on the dotted line.

  1. Bed Bug Registry: My hairdresser told me that all places that have been verified as having a bed bug infestation are required by law to be listed on this site, well in the particular cities that the site services anyway. I don’t know about this “law” but my hairdresser seemed convinced. I looked into the site and it seemed like it was mainly hotels (which, whoa! that was opening a can of worms I wasn’t expecting) so I’m not sure how many apartments or houses actually do get listed. But, it’s worth a look to double check that your new place is NOT listed!
  2. Sex Offender Registry: Who, if any, of your neighbors are registered sex offenders? Are there registered sex offenders living in close proximity of the playground you imagine you will frequent with your little ones? Most sites will provide photos of the offenders as well as a brief description of the type of crime so you can keep an eye out, just in case.
  3. Crime Report: Many cities have their own sites but you can also check by typing in your zip code to see what type of crime activity is taking place nearby.  This may or may not impact your decision to rent that place but knowledge is still power. For example, if you notice the most frequent crime in your new area is vehicle theft you can make sure to add that to your insurance plan.
  4. Google the landlord: Does this person show up on zillow or another real estate site as the owner of the property? Are there any complaints or court cases filed against this individual? Sometimes a simple google search will yield these types of results and give you some insight into who you might be dealing with. If there’s a long list of complaints, for example, it might be best to walk away even if the place seems great.
  5. Google the address: You might be surprised with what you find has been associated with the house or apartment. You might want to know what kind of businesses or LLC (Limited Liability Companies) are registered to that address for example in case you get some interesting characters showing up on your doorstep.

What are some of your favorite things to check before agreeing to rent a place?