A "Don't" Checklist for Military Renters

Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 08:01 AM Dawn M. Smith Renting/Buying a Home

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There are many resources for military renters with varying degrees of rental history, and MilitaryByOwner is a useful initial stop for the first-timer as well as a more seasoned home renter.

This list is intended to go beyond the basic Don’ts for renting a home.

  • Don’t get excited about the cheap rent too quickly. Ask why the house is listed less compared to others in the area. Maybe the house is in the direct line of an airport’s runway or the driveway is constantly blocked by a barrage of school buses before and after school.
  • Don’t exclusively rely on the homeowner's assurance that the home is within the correct boundaries for the school you want the kids to go. They may be unaware of the school board’s future plans to redistrict, or worse, know the change is coming and hope you don’t do your homework.
  • Don’t be held hostage by a potential landlord. Protect your privacy and be sure to examine in the lease how much and how often he requires access to the house. Repairs, updates, and requested visits are normal reasons to warrant an appointment.  
  • Don’t disregard the landlord’s eagerness to rent to you. If it seems odd that he is willing to forgo a credit check or doesn’t require references of some sort, it may be a sign he needs to get the house rented fast for odd reasons. That can never be a good thing. The same holds true if he offers to reduce the rent if you sign today.
  • Don’t forget to check the safety of your personal property stored outside. Is the storage shed sturdy and able to be locked securely? Will the kids’ toys be fine stored under the deck in the back yard?
  • Don’t assume you have enough parking for your vehicles. Some homes only provide street parking that may require neighborhood parking permits to avoid costly parking fines. Check your neighbors’ cars for signs of vandalism.
  • Don’t ask property managers or owners if the neighborhood is safe or worry-free. They are not able to answer the question due to liability concerns. It’s your job to ask neighbors, check with local police departments, and search the internet for potential issues.
  • Don’t try and hide problems with your credit check or other financial issues. Most landlords that find out about lies are not likely to rent to you. 
  • Don’t go easy on the initial walkthrough inspection. This is an insurance document of sorts that can release you of previous damage or disrepair. Be sure to check small but nagging issues such as proper toilet flushing, water pressure in the showers, and even the option of opening windows that are painted shut.
  • Don’t ignore the large appliances and hope they continue working without maintenance. Inquire about the upkeep of the air conditioning and heating sources, and ask who pays for the routine care of each, including filter changes. The refrigerator’s water source might need a filter change, too. Find out where the circuit breakers are and ask how to manage them if one gets blown.
  • Don’t discount the importance of renters' insurance. The homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover the loss of your personal items. Some landlords require a policy from tenants before the lease can be signed.
  • Don’t rely on verbal agreements, including the small things. At the very least, have an e-mail trail of your repair requests or complaints. Even if the DIY project you want to do, like repainting the bedroom, will only help the homeowner, get it in writing, especially if they agree to reduce your rent or reimburse you for supplies.
  • Don’t fail to find the nearest conveniences. Where will you grocery shop and drop off dry cleaning? Is the nearest ballet school 20 miles away? How about the best emergency room for you and your pet?

MilitaryByOwner has several thorough references to review to ensure you chose the perfect rental. Make a point to read through our Renting Resources page!

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