Last-minute rental home tips before signing a lease

Tips when renting a house or apartment

Once students have more background on what kind of property they are interested in, it’s important for them to be careful when choosing the right property. There are several tips and red flags for students to be wary of in the property-renting process.

Re/Max Real Estate agent Jackie Lynch said the first thing students should look out for is the property’s location and safety measures.

“You want to be sure the owner/management is concerned for the tenants’ safety,” Lynch said. “The condition of the property will give you a good idea how the landlord/management company maintains the place.”

Additionally, Lynch said prospective tenants should take good notes when touring properties.

“You have to remember the condition in which you rent the property is most likely the best they expect it to be when the lease is up,” she said. “I strongly suggest pointing out all of the flaws upfront before signing a lease.”

Renee Kohl, a May 2012 graduate who was featured in the first installment on off-campus housing, said she regrets not taking pictures of the broken windows in her home before she signed her lease. She also said students should walk through the house with their landlords and point out flaws together.

“The city of Peoria requires a walkthrough to be done every year with the landlords and the tenants to check for any major issues,” she said. “A checklist that is required to be signed is available online. Walgenbach Lawler Properties made no effort to do this with us and we were not aware of this and now we are in a nightmare trying to get our security deposit back for things that were broken from previous tenants.”

The website to this checklist is www.ci.peoria.il.us/inspectionprogram.

Lynch said she advises students to watch their potential home to see what the neighborhood is like.

“Once you have a few places in mind, watch the building or house for a day or two to see who is living around it and to get the feel from the surrounding block of homes,” Lynch said. “Try to figure out the neighbors – if they are all students, if they’re an even mix of partiers or if they’re more focused on studying.”