Finding the right rental property isn’t always easy. The right location, the right price and the right size place are all essentials – but there are other less obvious things to look for which can be easy to overlook at an open inspection. Before you sign a rental lease, here’s what to watch out for to make sure your new home keeps you safe, healthy and happy.
Deadlocks on doors and locks on windows might not be the first thing that comes to mind when checking out a new place to live, but a secure property is essential. The right security will keep you and your belongings safe, and can also make a difference when it comes to insuring your belongings. If you’re not happy with the level of security you can see, ask the agent if the landlord would be prepared to add some extra locks to the property.
Landlords have certain responsibilities to keep tenants safe. Before signing a lease, check the property has working smoke alarms, and clear, unobstructed air vents. If you notice burning or discolouration on the front or above a heater, check with the agent what the problem is, and whether it’s been resolved. Agents should be able to show you a record of all safety checks on gas or electrical installations, including proof that gas heaters have been serviced every two years to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
There’s no point falling in love with a property if it doesn’t have the right space for your belongings – particularly expensive white goods. Take a tape measure to inspections to ensure there’s space for a washing machine, tumble dryer, fridge, and any other non-negotiable kitchen and laundry items. It’s also worth measuring rooms to ensure any big pieces of furniture such as dining tables, double beds and sofas will fit comfortably.
It can be easy to be wowed by a big room, but don’t be fooled by places that don’t have much storage. Having to add in wardrobes, cupboards and shelving can make a space appear crowded, and dramatically reduce a space that originally looked big. Think about where you’ll store pantry items, clothes and shoes, bedding and linen, ironing boards and vacuum cleaners, and items you don’t use regularly such as Christmas decorations and suitcases.
What looks like a beautiful home might not be a quiet one. As well as looking through a property, don’t forget to listen out for noise. If you’re inspecting somewhere on a weekend, find out if it’s on a busy bus route during the week. Is it under a flight path at a different time of day, or near a restaurant or pub that’s closed when you’re inspecting it? It can be worth sitting outside the property at different times of day to see if there’s noise from neighbours or anywhere else that might bother you. Knowing what to expect from a property from all times of the day or night before you sign a lease could save you some serious stress.
Learn more about how you can protect your belongings with NRMA Renters’ Contents Insurance.