- Where does one start when looking for a place to rent?
There are three initial steps one should consider:
• Be realistic by knowing what you need vs. what you want,
• Know what price range you can afford in your budget and be sure to factor in costs for utilities, and
• Research the neighborhoods you will consider living in to be sure you feel safe and have access to stores, mass transit, or whatever needs you may have as a priority.
- Should I use a property management company to help me find a place to rent?
This will be up to you as a renter and your individual preference. If you feel comfortable calling on private advertisements and working with landlords one-on-one without a property management consultant to help explain the process, then go it alone. However, if you are a first time renter or like the idea of having a property manager who works with multiple landlords, a property management company may be the choice you want.
- What are some of the basics to renting one should understand before starting out on a search?
• Rent is the agreed upon payment paid to the landlord or property management company for use of the rental unit for specific period of time normally on a monthly basis.
• In addition to rent a tenant will pay one or more deposits up front to the landlord or property management company for security or for cleaning the rental unit when one leaves. These deposits may or may not be refundable depending on the rental agreement.
• Property management companies and many landlords will charge an application fee to review and screen your rental application. This may include the costs of a credit or criminal records check and are normally non-refundable.
• What is the rental agreement? The rental agreement or contract is normally a month-to-month agreement or a lease agreement that spells out a specific time period (i.e. six months or a year). It identifies what the landlord and tenant will be responsible for during the agreement, how the rent will be paid, and who to contact if there are any problems that occur during the tenancy.
• Who is responsible for utilities? The rental agreement will spell out who pays for what in terms of utilities such as Gas, Electricity, Water, Sewer, Trash Removal, Phone, Cable, or Internet Connection.
• Is there additional cost for parking? This will depend on the type of rental unit and what is agreed to in the rental agreement.
• Are pets allowed? This will depend on the landlord’s pet policy. If pets are allowed, there is normally an additional deposit to cover any damage caused by the pet.
• Who takes care of the grounds (lawn and garden)? In a rental complex the grounds are normally cared for by the landlord. In single family home rentals the grounds are normally the responsibility of the tenant. This will also be spelled out in the rental agreement between the tenant and the landlord or property management company.
- What are some other tips to think about as one prepares to rent?
• Understand your rights under the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Oregon law spells out the responsibilities or both landlords and tenants and potential consequences when those responsibilities are not met.
• Be sure to have a Check-in and Check-out inventory. These are important and will protect the interests of both the landlord and tenant. Take pictures to verify condition when you move in and out.
Be sure to have renters insurance. The landlord will provide insurance coverage for the rental unit but not its contents or the tenant’s personal property. It is cheap and worth the protection should there be theft or a fire.