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Four Tips When Looking for a Place to Rent

By JF&CS Marketing: In Conversation with Jean Cohen, HomeShareAtl

The Manager of HomeShareATL, Jean Cohen has a lot of experience with coordinating rental housing. She gave us some tips of what to look for, and what to avoid when doing a rental search.

The New Year typically inspires individuals to experience renewal in their job, goals, finances, and possibly living arrangements. One such example is when an older individual is ready to “downsize” from an empty nest into something smaller and more suited for a single-person lifestyle.

Since the pandemic, people have started getting creative when it comes to housing situations and are exploring other options besides traditional renting of houses and apartments. But new opportunities often come with new and unfamiliar risks. Scams are evolving every day, preying on innocent and unsuspecting space shoppers, which means it’s important to stay on your toes now more than ever.

Our HomeShareATL Program expert shared four of the best tips to follow when looking for a new living space.

Go with your instincts and use common sense.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are a few common red flags and behaviors to avoid during your search:

  • The landlord wants to only deal in cash
  • Handing over payment without touring the space first
  • Not meeting with the landlord in person
  • No official lease or a lease that doesn’t require signing

Remember: You can always consult online if something seems fishy. Chances are, other people have encountered the same situations and can give you advice on what to avoid.

Safety first.

Don’t let your excitement of a potential new living space or new tenant cause you to abandon your better judgement. Check into the credibility of the website you use, whether you are seeking a home or a housemate. Also check into the credibility of other companies involved in the process, such as the background check company.

If you are visiting an area of town you’re unfamiliar with, check a map and make note of the surroundings. Use Google maps’ Streetview to see actual photos of the neighborhood and homes from the safety of yours. When you go to visit the property, bring a friend and go when it’s light out.

Have clear expectations but be flexible.

It’s close to impossible to find a space with everything you need, but you can find room to compromise. Below are a few examples:

  • Instead of insisting on being less than a mile from your job, consider up to five miles to be more flexible. The commute won’t change too much, and it will help broaden your options.
  • Consider being open to shopping at different stores than you usually do.
  • Be open to different experiences and opportunities for entertainment. You may want somewhere that’s close to a movie theater, but maybe you find a home that’s close to tons of different dining options and a mall.
  • Think about different ways you can meet your needs. The space you are looking at might not have a washer and dryer like you wanted, but there could be a laundromat right down the road.

As your search continues, you will get a better idea of what you can and cannot live without, and where you can find room to compromise to acquire the best space available for you. Housing is highly competitive, and good spaces fill fast, so it’s best to be flexible.

Explore options outside of traditional apartment and home rental advertisements.

We offer a HomeShareATL program that is part of a national shared housing networking center and are up-to-date on the best shared housing practices. We service home providers in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties, but seekers can be from anywhere. Our program is nonsectarian and follows COVID-19 protocols. Seekers and homeowners are carefully matched based on lifestyle, needs, and interests. You can learn more about our program here.

If you are either seeking to rent or seeking a tenant, be sure to check with your personal networks, as you may know somebody who is either looking for a home or looking to rent out at a reasonable price. You can also apply for financial assistance locally if needed.

We hope these tips helped you out! If you want to learn more about the HomeShareAtl program at JF&CS and what we do as an agency, feel free to click here. Happy house hunting!