That is certainly a broad category!. Here are a few suggestions, but by no means a comprehensive list:
Before Moving into a rental -
1. Check out the neighborhoods with an eye to what is important to you: transportation (Is it near public trains, buses expressways), area attractions (food, activities, entertainment), parking (on-street, garage, congestion) and safety (crime stats are available here on Trulia and through local police department sites).
2. Determine if you are getting value for your rental dollar. Compare similar properties. Look at price per square foot and the amenities offered by the rental property. Many properties offer a wide variety of amenities, from 24-hour doorman, on-site health clubs or gyms, business centers, concierge services, on-site dry cleaners, groceries (and eve a 24 hour Walmart at one downtown Chicago building). Of course, these amenities add costs and if you need few, your cost will be less.
3. Check out your landlord. Are they an established property owner/manager that takes care of their properties. Look closely at building common areas. Are they clean? Are there obvious signs of neglect ? If so, that may be a warning sign that the owner does not give great importance to maintenance and upkeep. If you are dealing with a small landlord or individual, have your agent check to see if the property that they are renting is in foreclosure. The economic recession turned many property owners into first time landlords. The last thing you want to happen is for the sheriff to show up at your door seeking to evict because the owner was foreclosed.
4. Work with a good agent to prepare a lease that properly reflects your agreement to rent. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The lease is the written agreement that will govern your relationship with the landlord. Get everything in writing. If the landlord has agreed to paint, make repairs, or has offered any discounts or incentives, make sure your lease reflects any such terms. Review your lease carefully to determine that there are no errors (dates, rental amounts, etc.) Be cognizant of miscellaneous fees: late charges, move-in or move-out fees, pet fees, subletting fees, etc. These can sneak up and cause you trouble down the road. Make sure you have been provided with proper disclosures as required by state or local ordinances, such as recent building code violations, radon, lead based pain, etc.
After moving in-
1. Sit back a take a breather and enjoy your new home. Moving can be stressful so don't get overwhelmed by trying to set up your new home all in one day. Take some time for yourself.
2. Before undertaking projects, such as painting, alterations, check with your landlord or consult your lease, and seek out neighbors and friends to get good recommendations for contractors and suppliers.
4. Inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and determine if they are in working order and if the batteries need to be changed.
5. Ask if your locks have been re-keyed and if not get your landlords permission to have this security measure done immediately. Make sure all doors close securely and that all locks are operable
3. Get familiar with your neighbors and your neighborhood. Learn where the police and fire stations are located, where you would go if you were injured, where groceries and pharmacies are located. Seek out knowledgeable neighbors and learn the ins and outs of your new homestead. Get the local perspective.
These are just a few thoughts and I am sure that the Trulia community will have many more to offer.
Welcome to your new home.
Rusty A. Payton, Broker
1225 W Morse
Chicago, Illinois 60626