Important Things to do When Looking to Rent

Moving into a place of your own is at once empowering and scary. It is freedom and responsibility all rolled into one. Very exciting. But, things can turn very sour, very quickly so do this to protect yourself

Get the Correct Details

It is not very common for people to advertise properties they have not actually had a look at, but to avoid surprises when you call the person advertising ask them to describe the place. If the description is vague or does not make sense, it’s probably because the person who posted the property has never been there.

Sometimes people may over sell a place when writing a rental property’s description like mentioning main roads, shopping areas or a major landmark to be a few minutes away when in actual fact they are farther.

Make sure that you get the correct details. Is it a house, does it stand alone, or is semi-detached, how many bedrooms. Is it a flat, cottage, bedsitter, a single room? Does it have city water or a borehole? Is the power electric or solar?

Get the details and as many as you can. So there are no surprises.

Go and See the Place

The place maybe have been advertised using generic photos or old photos. So as soon as possible go to the place and have a look around. Whether you are dealing with an agent are dealing directly with the owner of the premises; go and have a look. You do not have to go inside but, if you can, do go in and compare the pictures to what is in front of you.  Check the name of the road, the house number and if there are many units in one location, check which unit is being offered to you.

Be very careful also, if the advertiser is deliberately avoiding describing the exact available rental unit but shows you a photo of several units of different sizes and quality. It can happen that you may be looking at a different unit than what is on offer and when the deal is done, be disappointed. So, make sure that the premises you are being offered and would like to rent both match.

And if you reach out to someone that is offering a unit online and you are far. Ask, if you could have a virtual tour. If the person doesn’t want to show you, consider it as them trying to rent something other than what they are showing online in a photo.

Please note, if they want you to sign before seeing anything, it is a very bad sign. Do not do it! And avoid brokers (if you can) that want you to pay them a fee before you see the place and before all the papers are signed.

Ask, Ask, And Ask.

Ask, the people in the area about security and noise levels. The best people or those in the know to talk to are the roadside sellers, neighbors or other tenants if they are any. And ask, the owners about the house, the area and other things they think you should pay attention to.

Sometimes you may be told the owner is out of the country. Ask for some contact details. You may not get them as some agents are not allowed to give out names, or they do not want to be cut out of the deal. Also, they may be just being careful of scammers pretending to be a renter interested in a place but, turn out to just want to get information.

It does however serve you well to know who the owners are, even if they are not in the same area, town or country.


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The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo