Trying to find a home to rent can be a daunting task, especially if you are in a foreign country, but it needn’t be if you plan ahead on what to look for and take a systematic approach.

Making a priority list is always a very good starting point.

It is also a good idea to list your deal breakers and other things you are willing to compromise on. For example: If you are a family of four, it might be a deal breaker if a home only has two bedrooms. On the other hand, you might be willing to compromise and have your children share a room.

  1. Create a matrix with your top priorities and weight each property against them.
    Example matrixImportant featuresLevel of importance to you on a scale of 1 to 5How does this home score on a level of 1 to 5Security53Proximity to work55Sufficient space, ie number of bedrooms31Availability of domestic room11Quality of finishes42Rent, does it fit the allowance?44Aesthetically appealing52Total scores2718If you use the matrix and tally up the score of 2-3 potential homes you will be surprised how much clarity this system will give you when you are undecided between different homes.
  2. Never set your heart on one property only. The market moves extremely fast and often your top choice is gone before you have even put an offer on it. Remember that you are only renting and some level of compromise will give you more chances of getting a suitable home.
  3. Take local climate into consideration when inspecting potential properties, during the dry season you can expect to see some dust inside which should not be an indication of a badly maintained home. At the same time signs of damp should always ring warning bells and repairs completed before any lease agreement comes into effect.
  4. If you have moved to the next step of putting an offer, try and meet the landlord where possible. Sometimes even the most amazing property is not worth the rent if your landlord is non responsive and unwilling to maintain the property.
  5. Never sign a long term lease without a good exit/termination clause. 12 months with an option to renew is usually sufficient but if the landlord is insistent to sign longer try and have a break clause after 12 months.
  6. Include in the lease every special agreement and condition you agreed on with the landlord. Each clause protecting the landlord should be reciprocated by a clause protecting the tenant.
  7. When possible try to negotiate routine maintenance or recurring costs into the lease agreement, this usually includes pool and garden services, connections to security company, satellite TV subscription and the likes.
  8. No property is ever perfect, try and draw up a list of all visible issues that you can include in your offer to rent and request them to be fixed prior to moving in. This will ensure less headaches and contractors during your tenancy.
  9. Ask for a pre-paid electricity meter to be installed to avoid any surprise historical bills and to give you control over your expenditure.
  10. Keep all correspondence with your landlord and estate agent in writing, people easily forget what they promised once the deal is concluded and your emails trail will often be your only proof of prior agreements. Also keep all paperwork including inspection sheets, photos and lease agreement for the duration of the lease.

In the next issue we will look at practical tips on selecting the perfect home.

Expats On The Globe has helped hundreds of expatriates to find their perfect home, complete the legalities and at the end of the lease receive their deposit back. Call us if you need assistance finding a home or to manage your tenancy.