Over a third of US adults rent their home, with this number jumping to two-thirds for those under age 35. So, if you’re looking for a rental as the place to call home, you’re not alone. 

Unfortunately, the path to doing so can be long and confusing. After all, finding a residential property that meets your needs can mean looking at any number of different properties. How do you tell which one is the right one?

If you’re ready to find your family your next home, read through our rental property checklist to make it much easier to find the best home for you.


One of the first factors you’ll need to decide on when renting a home is how big of one you need. This will largely be determined by your family’s size and lifestyle.

For instance, if it’s just you and a partner, you might be able to get away with a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. However, if you have children, you will probably want a property with more bedrooms and bathrooms. 

In addition, certain life circumstances can affect this aspect. People who work from home may want an extra bedroom to serve as an office. But the same can still apply if you need more storage space or have guests often and want a guest room.

The size of your common areas is also important. If you cook at home a lot, a larger kitchen will be more important. A more spacious living room is favorable for many, but especially those with larger families. 

Along with size, it’s important to consider the types of homes you are interested in. Some people prefer traditional apartments. Though even here, you’ll need to choose between complexes and buildings. 

Others want to rent a traditional home. When looking for houses for rent, you may need to pay attention to the yard and other factors, such as garages. 

Your checklist:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Common area sizes
  • Type of property


Location is another key consideration and can greatly help you narrow down your search. Start by figuring out what neighborhood or part of town you are most interested in. 

When thinking about this, consider what is available in close proximity. For example, you may want to be close to stores and parks. 

Ideally, it’s best if you can choose an area close to your work location. This will save you a lot of time each day on your commute.

If you have children, the neighborhood may be dependent on the nearby schools. Even if your children are not quite yet in school, if they will be soon, it’s worth considering to cut down on another future move.

Your checklist:

  • Desirable neighborhood
  • Proximity to: 
    • Stores
    • Work
    • Schools
    • Parks


You will need to meet the income requirements for the property you want to rent. Usually, this means your monthly income is three times the monthly rent price. However, you also need to make sure you can comfortably afford it.

A good rule of thumb is that housing should not be over 30% of your income. For many families, this leaves enough for other financial obligations.

When calculating this, consider what is included in the rent price of the properties you are looking at. One may be more expensive, but it includes your water and electricity bill. Whether or not this is worth it will depend on your usual utility costs and how they fit into your overall budget.

Your checklist:

  • Property’s income requirements
  • Your budget
  • Utilities


When renting a property, a good landlord can make all the difference. The time while you are touring the property is a great time to see how they are to work with. 

In general, look for a property manager who is friendly and sincere. You want someone who is fair and will take care of your property in case anything comes up.

You should also check online reviews when possible. If you are renting from a company, this can be easily done by searching online. 

Also, pay attention to how the landlord handles maintenance needs. You can ask questions about this while touring and check reviews for this information. This can help ensure you are not stuck with a major problem, for instance, if an appliance breaks down.

Your checklist:

  • Easy to work with the landlord
  • Online reviews
  • Maintenance procedures


Your safety wishes may not line up with what the landlord does just because of what you each value. Therefore, it’s important that you check that the things that matter to you are taken care of.

One of the biggest things is the locks. Always make sure to check that the locks are working and feel sturdy. 

While it’s not necessarily a requirement in many areas, make sure the locks are changed between tenants. This reduces the chance that a past tenant has a key to your new home.

Proper outdoor lighting is important for a few reasons. For one, it makes it much easier for you to go outside at night and still be able to see where you are going. However, lighting is also important because it can be a major deterrent to crime.

Other safety features that deter crime include cameras in common areas and buzzers to let guests in. Just note that these features may not be necessary or available in some areas and properties. You’ll need to judge which are the most important to you.

If your property has elevators or stairs, make sure they are well-maintained and lit. They should also be easy to access as this will improve your everyday life.

All rental properties should have working smoke detectors in each bedroom and level. Some also provide carbon monoxide detectors. However, if the one you are interested in does not, you can get your own.

Your checklist:

  • Sturdy locks
  • Locks changed between tenants
  • Adequate outdoor lighting
  • Crime-deterrent features
  • Elevators and stairs
    • Well-maintained
    • Well-lit
    • Easy to access
  • Smoke detectors
    • Each bedroom
    • Each level
  • Carbon monoxide detectors


Before you sign any lease, make sure you test the home rental property itself for livability factors. This means you should go through the space and flip light switches, test outlets when possible, flush toilets, and run faucets.

Flickering lights, exposed wiring near outlets, and outlets that are hot to the touch can all indicate electrical issues. 

The toilet should flush easily and completely. Water should flow clearly and at good pressure. In addition, the temperature should be adequate and adjusted properly.

At this same time, make sure the lighting is appropriate for your needs. Having natural light come in through windows can positively increase your standard of living. It’s also important that light fixtures and outlets are placed in livable locations.

Your checklist:

  • Light switches
  • Outlets
  • Toilets
  • Faucets
  • Natural and artificial light

Lifestyle Needs

In any rental, you’ll want to pay attention to noise levels from both traffic and neighbors. Since noise tends to change throughout the day and night, it’s best to check at different times of the day. A property may seem quiet during the weekdays but turn into a party scene every Friday night. 

Certain other lifestyle needs can be critical when choosing a rental. For example, if you have a car, parking that is close and well-lit is very important. In the same way, you may need to consider guest parking availability.

If you have children, a child-friendly home is crucial. You may want to check for areas where your child can play. You might also consider how comfortable it will be for them to live in the home itself.

Pets also need certain requirements. For one, some rentals don’t allow animals, so make sure yours is pet-friendly. You’ll also want to make sure there is space for your pet to play and go outside if applicable.  

Your checklist:

  • Noise levels
  • Parking
  • Child-friendly
  • Pet-friendly

Extra Amenities

Some rental properties include extra amenities that can make a huge impact. Some common ones include a pool, gym, or entertainment spaces. If you would use these, it might make the difference between choosing a property or not. 

Other amenities you may want to consider include covered parking and extra storage space.

Your checklist:

  • Pool
  • Gym
  • Entertainment space
  • Covered parking
  • Storage space

Moving In

Once you’ve chosen and applied for a rental home and are accepted, your checklist isn’t over. It’s just as important that you double-check your new home before fully moving in. 

You want to make sure the home is in good condition and just as it’s supposed to be. Run through a move-in checklist to make sure. Sometimes you can even do this with the property manager. 

Make sure to document any problems by writing down the details. You should also take pictures and videos as documentation.

If there are any issues, ask for them to be resolved right away. Your landlord should be able to tell you when they can have them fixed.

Before signing your lease, read through the agreement carefully. Ask questions to clarify if you don’t understand something. Both you and your landlord should be on the same page before you sign.

Finally, make sure you understand move-out procedures. This includes what the notice should be from both sides - you and your landlord.

Your checklist:

  • Day-of checklist
  • Understand lease
  • Understand move-out procedures

Run Through Your Rental Property Checklist

If you’re ready to rent a new home, a rental property checklist can help make sure it’s perfect for you. Make sure to follow it while choosing your home and when moving it. Doing so will make sure you have the best experience possible with your new rental property.

Want more tips to make your home life easier? Check out our other lifestyle articles too!