Lease
Apartments.com

Tips for Leasing a House

HouseRentBlog

You know you want to rent. The question is: should you rent a house or an apartment? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Consider the following:

  • In an apartment, you have neighbors -- above, below, or beside you (or even all three). A house is self-contained, providing more privacy.
  • In a house, you may be responsible for taking care of basic upkeep, including lawn maintenance, shoveling the sidewalk, and pest service. Apartment renters have less to worry about.
  • Apartments have little storage space. A house will have plenty -- a garage, an attic, or even a basement.
  • If you decide to rent a house, you'll have an individual landlord who may not understand or respect your rights as a tenant. Apartment buildings are typically professionally operated by a property management company.
  • A house will have a yard, an apartment will not (you might get a small balcony or patio).
  • Apartments typically offer a variety of amenities, such as a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center, laundry facilities, play areas for kids, and even on-site dog parks.
  • Apartments provide fast maintenance -- even on-site maintenance. If you have a pipe burst or your garbage disposal stops working, you can usually get it repaired quickly. A landlord may require more time to address an issue.
  • If you have a pet -- especially a larger dog -- a house could be a much better option. Many apartment communities only allow small pets or they have breed restrictions. If you have a pet over 20 pounds or a breed that is often on the restricted list, you may want to consider renting a house instead of an apartment.

If you decide that a house is best for your family, there are a few things to consider before starting your search. First, make sure you protect yourself from scams. A legitimate landlord won't ask for money before you've even seen the property, and they shouldn't demand cash. You should never pay in cash -- the payment is untraceable and too easy to disappear with. Always pay by check.

A landlord shouldn't be anonymous -- if they refuse to meet with you, move on. You and the landlord should sign the lease together -- don't sign it and then mail it to the landlord. Also, make sure you each have a copy of the lease showing both signatures. Never, ever rent a place unseen -- if the landlord refuses to show you the house, it's likely a scam. Another common scam is for the landlord to claim to be out of the country, typically with a request that you wire cash. Protect yourself by requesting a face-to-face meeting at the property, and talk to the current tenant if possible.

Beware of the landlord who doesn't ask you any questions! If it's too easy, it could be a scam. Your potential landlord should be very concerned about who is living at his property. If he doesn't at least run a credit check or ask about your rental history, that's a major red flag.

Finally, know what you're signing! There are different options when renting a home: a short-term lease (six months to a year), lease-to-own (where you rent a house and agree to purchase it after the rental period expires), and lease-option (renting a home with the option to purchase at the end of the lease). (To learn more about these options, check out this blog.)

Looking for an Apartment? Start Here!

Apartments.com is the leading online apartment listing website, offering access to information on nearly 1,000,000 available rental units and helping connect property managers and landlords to millions of qualified renters every day.

Search Rentals