Whether you have rented or not before, renting a home is incredibly different than renting from an apartment building. Usually, for one, homes are being rented directly by the homeowner, not from a rental company who owns and operates the entire apartment complex (and often many other apartment complexes as well).

  1. The Surrounding Area

When you’re renting a house, you aren’t just moving into a new home; you are moving into a new area. You need to think about what is important to you personally, what you can live with, and what would make you crazy. Do you want a park or a community center near you? How far is the nearest grocery store? Are you near a school or a fire department (both of which can be quite loud)? Research the area before you commit to it, as it might not be right for you. It is a great idea to find the area you want first, then look for the type of house you want within that area.

  1. What is Permitted

When you do find a house that you’re interested in living in, you need to establish with the landlord what you are and are not allowed to do to the property, and this needs to be agreed upon in writing. Find out if you would are allowed to paint, to hang pictures or mount a television, or make any other cosmetic changes to the home. You also need to establish if pets are allowed if you own a pet or would like to get one in the future. Understanding what is and is not allowed in the home, and negotiating these terms, is crucial to have everything in writing and will help your relationship with your landlord.

  1. The Utilities

Before you move in and sign the contract, it is important to establish, in writing, who will be handling the utilities and if so which ones. If you are going to be responsible for the utilities, you will need to contact the various companies to establish your move-in date and which property you will be moving into. Do this early, as you may be required to pay a deposit depending on various factors. You don’t want to end up moving into a house without power, water, or heat.

  1. The Contract

You will have a contract with your landlord that outlines the terms of your agreement. Unlike with a large rental company at an apartment building, you are renting from an individual who uses the property as an investment. Considering this they will usually be much more strict about things like breaking the lease, so you need to go over the contract very carefully. Find out about any penalties you may be on the hook for if you need to break the lease, including if you need to find a new tenant.

  1. Keep things Tidy

Your landlord will want to make sure that you are keeping the property neat and tidy and that no damage has occurred. It is an investment property for them, and they may have a mortgage for the property. Make sure you are taking care of it so that when they do inspections, they will have no reason to be upset with you. Part of keeping things neat and tidy is also handling the yard and snow removal unless otherwise stated in the contract. Make sure you know who is responsible for both!

If you take your time and have a good, honest conversation with your landlord when you are looking to rent their property, there is no reason why things should not go smoothly, and you should be able to move into your home with no issue.