House Renter’s Guide (4 Pre/Post-Move Checklists)
Renting a house is similar but different from buying a house. You can opt for fully furnished, partly furnished, and completely unfurnished when you rent a home.
Moving into a house rental does not have to be complicated if you get organized, and that is where a house rental checklist can help you pick the best house rental for you and your family and manage the move.
Tips for New Home Renters
The top house rental tips for moving are:
- Physical space matters – you need enough room for your family, pets, car, and lifestyle.
- Don’t rely on the landlord for the physical condition assessment – always take notes and pictures of the house you move into, so when you argue about your deposit, you have the evidence on your side.
- Pack the minimum by ditching the junk – use your move as an opportunity to remove excess clothing and declutter. It is one of the hidden benefits of renting as you get to “reset.”
- Sell your excess stuff in advance of your move – if your furniture and appliances don’t fit in the new place, turn them into cash. You have money for new stuff and less moving costs.
- Pack efficiently – either buy or collect suitable packing materials but plan to make it easier to unpack at the other end.
- Choose the best moving option – the amount of stuff dictates the best moving process from self-hire to a professional team.
- Close your utility bills and open new accounts – take copies of all meter readings.
- Change of address administration – redirect your post and keep telling people and organizations about your house move.
- Budget – it is an expensive business so keep track of what you are spending.
- Prepare an emergency plan; you may have to spend a couple of days without a fridge, washing machine, or bed while waiting for deliveries.
- Keep track of keys – return keys to the old landlord and collect new ones in time to move in.
- Preserve your deposit – check to see if cleaning your old home will save you a cleaning bill.
- Pets and children create chaos; if you can, remove them to a safer location on moving day.
- Have a moving day box with essential supplies so you can have a hot drink, snacks, and access to cleaning materials immediately on moving.
- Be realistic about how much you can do in a day – allow yourself plenty of packing and unpacking time.
- Budget to eat out or have a takeaway on moving day – consider it a treat for your hard work.
- Enlist as many helpers as you can for packing, moving, and unpacking.
- Arrange purchase and delivery of your new stuff for the day after moving rather than on moving day.
- Charge your phones the day before moving and make sure the charger is available – there is going to be lots of necessary communication and the odd emergency.
- Load all the necessary numbers onto your phone – utility companies, landlords, removal companies, landlord’s agent; you can delete them afterward. Still, on moving day, you need your numbers at your fingertips.
- Eat high-energy snacks throughout the moving day and drink plenty of water. A dehydrated, hungry brain is not the best decision-maker, and tempers will fray.
Home Rental Checklist #1: Getting Physical
A house gives you a set number of rooms and outdoor space. Ensuring you have enough room for you and your family tops the list of what to consider when renting an apartment or a house.
The house viewing is where you observe and find all the answers to your house rental questions. Finding a rental house to fit your needs means paying attention to the physical details.
What to look for when renting a house includes:
- Number and size of bedrooms – you may choose to repurpose one or more for an office or other purpose.
- Size and shape of living space – open plan feels more spacious, but you may prefer separation between kitchen and living space.
- Bathroom space – is it a complete bathroom or a shower room?
- Kitchen space – appliances included, and is there enough storage space for your equipment.
- Parking spaces – how many, and is it enough? Do you have weather protection?
- Yard or Garden space – how big and how much maintenance? Is there a need for or space for garden tools?
- Windows – curtains, blinds, or other screens in place, or do you need to measure up?
- Furniture – supplied or for you to source? Enough storage furniture or integral cupboards?
How many bedrooms you need and if you enjoy a garden depends on your lifestyle.
Some people prefer a minimum amount of parking space and no maintenance; others love to plan colorful seasonal plantings.
Potential kitchen appliance checklist:
- Fridge and freezer – single or combination.
- Washing machine and tumble drier – single or combination.
- Oven and hob – generally fitted as part of the kitchen.
- Small electricals – kettle, toaster, coffee machine, and other essentials for your family.
Small electricals are generally the renter’s property, but the kitchen may come with all appliances or a selection.
As part of your physical checklist, you need to establish what you need to buy. Plus, you need to take measurements and work out if the kitchen has space for your appliances.
If a chest freezer is essential for you, but your kitchen is too small, you need to get creative with how the house will accommodate your freezer – is the hallway large enough?
Room sizes are more than square footage – the room layout can make a surprising difference to livability. If your children are doubling up in a room, they need a larger space to accommodate twice the amount of clothing and toys.
When you look at the space, think about activities – do you have enough room to eat a family meal, put away your clothes and do your morning exercises?
The house rental may have furniture, but does that furniture meet your needs and leave you room to breathe?
Home Rental Checklist #2: Condition Matters
Your landlord will complete a physical condition checklist between lettings. This assessment decides how much to deduct from the deposit.
If you can, get a copy of the landlord’s physical condition checklist and then go through each item and check and record (with photos) your agreement or other observations.
Give the landlord a copy and agree on the condition, as this will save you facing a bill for someone else’s wear and tear when you move out.
Even if the landlord can’t or won’t provide you with a physical condition checklist, you can do your condition survey on moving in.
A systematic approach for a rental property’s condition survey covers:
- Ceilings – look for leaks, dampness, mold, flaking paint, and cracks.
- Walls – freshness of paint, dampness, mold, cracks, and dents. Pay attention to corners that suffer knocks from moving furniture and people.
- Floors – cleanliness, stains, and damage.
- Doors – hinges, door handles, and condition on both sides of the door.
- Windows – fit, glass and blinds, or curtains.
- Furniture – dents, cracks, and stains.
- Appliances – cleanliness, physical damage, and working order.
- Pests – look for signs of infestation past or present.
After preparing your physical condition checklist, you may ask your landlord to take remedial action on any damage noted.
If you want to hang pictures, mirrors or shelves, it is worth getting your landlord’s permission in writing at this stage.
Record your observations and photographs in a digital or paper file, and during tenancy, update your file with any remedial action you take to improve your surroundings.
Home Rental Checklist #3: Budgeting
Moving home is expensive because you incur extra costs, possibly paying double rent and unexpected purchases.
For example, the bathroom sink may have a missing plug, and there will be other small, unplanned costs. A comprehensive budget tries to include all known costs with room for surprises.
The budget for your new rental home may include:
- Up-front rental cost.
- Fees – credit checks, agent fees, and other administration costs.
- Moving costs – transport, packing materials.
- Cleaning kit – because you will want to clean as you move in.
- Small repair kit – all-purpose tape, cable ties, a couple of small tools for assembling furniture, and on-the-spot minor repairs.
- Basic first aid kit – sterile wipes and small plasters because moving stuff around can result in minor cuts.
- Bedding, towels, and other small furnishings.
- Kitchen and bathroom supplies.
- Utilities, internet, and television – you may need upfront payments to get connected.
The amount of extra stuff you need to buy depends on your current circumstances.
You may already have everything you need for bedding, furniture, and appliances.
You may want to budget to eat out or bring in a takeaway for your first meal in your new home. A busy day moving isn’t going to leave you in the mood to set up your kitchen and cook an evening meal.
Home Rental Checklist #4: Timing
Once you sign your leasing agreement and agree on a date for moving in, you have many small details to wrap up your life in your old home and transfer it into your new house.
The list of jobs to complete before moving day include:
- Organizing transport for moving day – depends on how much stuff you need to move, and you can hire a van or pay someone to do the whole job.
- Contacting utilities and other suppliers for meter readings and final bills for your existing property and arrange connections in your new home.
- Sort your stuff – there is no point taking junk from one house to another; it’s an opportunity to ditch or sell anything you don’t want in your life.
- Purchase or obtain packing materials and start packing early. Ideally, you want everything boxed and ready to go the day before you move. Label the boxes clearly with their destination room and contents.
- Arrange for postal redirection.
- Arrange pet and children sitting – life will be easier if small children and animals are not underfoot while moving. A sleepover with a friend means you can concentrate on a successful move. You can return the favor with a welcome to our new home sleepover.
- Run down the food supplies, so you don’t need to transport fresh food or open packets of dried foods.
- Get all your laundry done days in advance so you don’t have wet clothing to move.
- Organize your moving-in supplies – the items you need to hand as you start to unpack and settle into your new home. These include snacks, hot drinks, a change of clothing, and a cleaning kit.
- Talk to your existing landlord about your deposit and final inspection. Establish if your landlord intends to charge you for a professional clean – if they do, then there is no point in making extra efforts to clean up before you go.
- Consider any remedial action you need to take to preserve your deposit – minor repairs and touch-ups if appropriate.
- Pick up or arrange to pick up keys for the new home.
- Arrange delivery of new appliances and furniture to the new home if necessary.
- Utility meters read – take copies in the old property.
- Possessions packed up and transported to the new home.
- Bag and discard any remaining rubbish.
- Clean – if this will save you part of your deposit.
- Physical condition survey – with pictures either by yourself or with the landlord.
- Close all windows and doors and lock and secure the property by setting any relevant alarms.
- Return keys to the old landlord.
- Check utilities work in new property and take and record meter readings.
- Physical condition survey of the new property before you unpack.
- Unpack – if you have clear labels, you can unpack in stages over the next few days, with the most urgent useful items as a priority.
- Change of address notifications – a postal redirect will pick up items you forget, but a checklist of who has your address is helpful. Your employer, doctor, bank, and a host of others will need your new contact details. Mobile communication makes this process less demanding than in the past.
- Register as appropriate with schools, health professionals, and state records for voting rights.
- Follow up with past landlord for the return of security deposit.
- Familiarize yourself with how the utilities work, check what spares you need for light bulbs, assess the need for extension leads and any other small items to make your home comfortable.
- Prepare for a housewarming party.
Ideally, you move out of one house and into another on the same day, but if you are moving across the country or there is a gap, then you need to consider interim arrangements:
- Storage for the gap – you can rent storage space, and many moving companies allow storage by the day for a move.
- Accommodation – makes sense to have it near work or school to make the transmission period while living out of a suitcase easier.
If you are lucky, you may have a relative or friend with enough space to provide you with storage and accommodation in a gap period.
Add in a thank you present into your budget to acknowledge their support.
Good Luck with Your Move
No house rental guide can cover everything you need to do to make your move run smoothly but having a checklist of actions helps.
Remember to treat the event as an exciting adventure rather than as a potential nightmare.
A systematic approach to packing and clear labels really will make your life easier when moving from one house rental to another. When in doubt – list it out.