College students to newlyweds find the prospect of home ownership a consideration for “someday in the future.” That’s why most of us start life on our own in a rental.  There are many benefits to renting. As a tenant you are not obligated to pay for general repairs, you know how much to pay every month so there are no surprises and a lease can be short or long term to suit your needs. 

On the downside you can’t remodel or make any changes to the property without permission from the owner. Mounting a satellite on the exterior of a rental property is just asking for trouble. Installers are looking for a paycheck and that only comes when the customer has service. Getting that service requires a mount for the dish to reach the proper angle to the satellite leaving holes in the roof or siding that cause water damage, and damages cause by the tenants are paid by the tenants.

Pets and play equipment are also a consideration. If you have a pet of any kind or plan to get a pet in the future the landlord must give you permission to do so. Failure to take this into consideration can lead to eviction and/or penalty fees or damages. And yes this includes any pet you can buy from a pet store: fish, lizards, snakes, hamsters, dogs, cats, etc. Play equipment, pools and trampolines can be a huge liability. This creates a need for liability waivers, additional insurance, and environmental considerations to protect the tenant and the homeowner from incurring problems down the road.

Finding a rental in today's market is a challenging experience. There are many fluctuations in the economy which impacts the real estate market all together. If it’s a great time to buy a house the mortgage payment may be less expensive than rent, and there might be a rental on every corner but when sales are down there will be more listings and fewer rental options.

When looking at properties to rent you may choose to rent from an individual or a property management company. Keep in mind that both are going to be looking out for the best interest of the property, as an investment, for the owner. It is beneficial to you, as an tenant, to get everything in writing before you move in. Renters insurance is also a must in either situation since the owner will have insurance on the property but not on your personal belongings. If there is damage from a fire, flood or other disaster and you are not insured the property owner is not obligated to take care of you.


It is also important to take care of your obligations. Rental history and references are a vital part of today's rental market. Bad history will limit your options and could leave you out in the cold.