Thursday, July 22, 2010

Renting? Food for thought here.

Some thoughts I’ve had lately about being a renter in today’s real estate market.

Landlords usually do a credit check and sometimes even a background check on prospective tenants. If I was a prospective tenant, I think I’d ask the landlord for a credit check on him/her in return. You probably don't need (and won't get) a credit check on your landlord, but some information is worth asking for.

Why? Many, many landlords are renting their home because they couldn’t sell it. It’s possible that the rent paid by the tenant doesn’t cover the landlord’s mortgage. If I’m a tenant, I want to know that the landlord is covering that gap, and doing so comfortably. That way, I don’t get a Notice taped to “my” front door one day telling me I have to move out because the house is going to the foreclosure auctions.

I think I’d also ask them if this is their first time being a landlord. If it is, I might want to spend some time talking about hypotheticals:

  • what is the fair thing to do if the A/C breaks in July?

  • what is the fair thing to do if the water has to be shut off for a day? for two days? three days?

  • is there a home warranty in place? if so, who pays for the service call fee when the home warranty is used to fix minor broken things around the house?

  • how often does the landlord plan on coming over to inspect things? will s/he give notice before hand? If so, how much notice?

  • Who’s supposed to change the A/C filters inside the house and how often?

  • Does the landlord keep a key to the house while I’m living in it?

I’m not sure there’s a standard, “right” answer to any of those questions. But – particularly me, as a woman living alone – I’d want to know if my landlord lived in town and kept a key to the house I was planning to live in. I’d probably want to know that too, if I was a parent with small children in the house.

Many tenants work with Realtors to find their next rental home. If you’re looking to rent, I’d recommend it. Personally, Chris and I don’t usually handle rentals. But our broker Thompson’s Realty has a Realtor on-staff that handles rentals all the time, both landlord-side and tenant-side.

If you’re looking to rent, shoot us an email and we’ll hook you up with the Thompson’s Realty landlord & tenant Realtor professional. Or visit them online at