Viewing the Rental and Gathering the Facts
What to Consider When Deciding on a Rental
How does the landlord check out?
- Visit the student-only Landlord Review Website to see what previous students' experiences have been with local landlords & property management companies.
- Not listed on the Landlord Review Website? Try looking them up on Google reviews or yelp
- If the current renter is present in the unit when you are doing the walkthrough, try to ask him/her what their experience has been with the landlord.
- Your landlord is doing background checks on you, so consider doing the same on them. Request that he/she put you in touch with one of his/her current or previous tenants so that you can ask what that tenant's experience has been like renting with that particular landlord.
Doing the Walk-Through
It is very important to view the rental IN PERSON before agreeing to anything or exchanging any money. Never rent sight-unseen. Online photos can be inaccurate or misleading.
Ask Questions (to landlord) while viewing the unit:
- "Who is responsible for snow removal?" Remember, snow needs to be removed from sidewalks by 9 AM or the city can fine you.
- "Who is responsible for lawn maintenance?" We live in a dry climate so watering the lawn is expensive! Also, it is a lot of work to mow a lawn every 3 weeks. If you are required to mow, ask whether a mower is provided.
- Clarify which utilities are included with rent if not listed elsewhere
- "Is there off-street parking?" "How many spaces accompany this unit?"
- Who do I contact with maintenance/safety issues? (If the landlord lives out of town, you want to make sure the landlord has someone managing the property locally.)
- Has the unit been inspected through the Voluntary Residential Inspection Program(VRIP)?
- if not, you can sign up for this free service as soon as you move in to verify that everything is up to code
- If during the walk through you see things that appear to be potential safety concerns, you may want to pass on renting the unit
If possible, ask questions to the outgoing tenants while viewing the unit:
- How was your experience renting from the landlord? Was s/he responsive to maintenance requests?
- Why are you moving?
- How are the neighbors?
- Is there anything I should know about renting this unit ahead of time?
Out-of-State & Out-of-Town Students:
If you live out of town it can be challenging to see units in person.
Sometimes you have to come back to search for a rental. Consider either scheduling a summer trip or coming to town a few weeks early to make housing arrangements. If you can't arrange to crash with a friend or are new to town, you will have to make temporary housing arrangement. Check with Residence life for summer housing options (umt.edu/reslife ; 243-2611). If you're interested in getting to know someone new, couch surfing or Airbnb might be a good option for you. Additionally, Missoula provides many hotels, a number of which are in close proximity to campus.
Ask a friend to look at a rental for you. If a landlord or property management company is willing to rent to you "sight unseen", you can avoid the scammers by asking a friend to view the rental inside. Just let the landlord know who will be taking the tour. Have your friend take photos of the unit so that you can review them.