1. You must be assured that you are renting from the legitimate owner of the property. This fact can be easily verified by visiting the county assessor’s page and matching up the name of the owner with the name associated with the home in the county's records.
2. It is critical that you determine if the home is in good standing with the bank. The last thing you need is to rent a home that may be headed to foreclosure. This is also an easy aspect to check at the assessor’s page.
3. You want to ensure that the rental income is actually being paid to the bank. In most cases the landlord will show you an “up to state statement” of his/her payment schedule to ease you mind. However, if the owner is nervous to do so, that should be an immediate warning sign.
4. Lastly, many people expect that they will have their security deposit returned to them in full. However, if you sign a contract when the owner is able to determine how much of your security deposit he/she retains based on his/her arbitrary findings, be prepared to walk away from your security deposit.
If you are placing a large security deposit, make sure you create ground rules prior to the signing of the lease in regards to the return of the security deposit, how much may be forfeited and who ultimately makes that decision.
If you follow these four easy steps, you will reduce the overall risk of your obligation and enhance the overall success of your lease.
Happy house hunting.