How to rent a house if buying one isn't on your radar

How to rent a house if buying one isn't on your radar

couple renting a house


Learn how to rent a house in just seven steps.

You can reap a number of benefits if you rent rather than buy a house.

Renting often comes with a lower monthly cost than owning a home because you don't have to worry about paying for property taxes, homeowner's insurance, maintenance, and home repairs.

Renting can also give you greater flexibility and is a wise option if you like the idea of being able to pick up and move with minimal hassle. Regardless of why you'd like to rent a house, here are the steps you'll need to take if you choose to go this route.

How to rent a house

1. Determine your renting budget

Take a look at your income and expenses to figure out how much you can and want to spend on renting a house. Make sure you consider the cost of utilities, parking, renter's insurance, and moving when coming up with this figure.


2. Make a list of must-haves

Think about what you're looking for in a house and make a list of features you're not willing to negotiate on. If you have a dog, you may need a fenced-in backyard. If you have multiple children, you may only be able to consider a rental with three or more bedrooms.

3. Do your research

Once you've nailed down your budget and list of must-haves, it's time to do your research and see what's out there. You can use popular real-estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, and, and other online resources such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, to search for open house rentals in your area.

4. Tour houses

As soon as you've found a few houses that pique your interest, contact the landlord or property management company and set up some times to tour them. It's a good idea to take notes or photos during each tour so you can remember details about each property and compare properties later.

5. Negotiate rental terms

After you've found a house that meets your budget and lifestyle needs, speak to the landlord or property management company to negotiate terms that work best for you. Maybe you'd like to rent for six months instead of a year. Or, maybe you'd like discounted parking or free cable television. Let them know what you prefer and see what kind of arrangement you can make.

6. Fill out a rental application

Once you've negotiated rental terms and are ready to move forward, you'll need to fill out a rental application. While each form is different, you'll likely need to provide a valid photo ID, recent pay stubs, and the following information:

  • Name
  • Current address and previous addresses
  • Phone number and email address
  • Employment and income details
  • Pets
  • Emergency contacts
  • Landlord, personal, or professional references

7. Pay the rental application fee

Your application fee will depend on where you're renting, the landlord or property management company you're working with, and the particular house you've decided on. The application fee typically covers the background check that will be performed.

8. Sign the lease agreement

Once you've completed the application process and passed the background check, you'll sign the lease agreement. Be sure to read it carefully and make sure everything you've negotiated is included before signing.

Think you might be ready to buy your dream home? Find out how much house you can afford:

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