How to Find a Safe, Affordable Rental Property for Your Family


( – Research from the PEW Research Center suggests that over 1/3 of households rent their homes, meaning that rental properties are in demand and lots of landlords hope to make money by renting their properties. The competitive nature of the rental market means that finding a safe and affordable rental property can be a challenge, and many families don’t know how to get started. Fortunately, with some clear steps, any family can find a rental property that meets their needs and causes as little rental-related stress as possible.

Allot Time for Your Search

The process of finding a rental property and moving in may take longer than many people realize. Depending on the current rental market and selected region, there may be low availability of rental options available. To leave enough time, renters will want to allot at least a month for their search because renter data suggests most respondents took three weeks or more to find their rental. While some people can find their chosen rental within a week, remember that the hunt, application process, and move-in time can result in a several-week wait before you can get into your rental.

Choose Your Budget

Before looking for a rental, it’s crucial to think about a feasible budget. Rental properties can get expensive, especially for families who have a long list of needs, and knowing how much is affordable for your family will help you narrow down your options and prevent you from falling in love with a rental you cannot afford.

To determine your budget, you generally want to keep your rental cost at 30% or lower of your monthly income, based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of affordable housing.

Location, Location, Location

Location is one of the most important factors for finding a rental home because many people want to live in specific areas based on the locations of work, school, or extended family. Rental location greatly impacts the affordability of rentals and what features will be available, so each family needs to consider how important location is for them and the specific location they prefer as well as reasonable alternative neighborhoods.

Make a Priority List

Each family should make a priority list. This list will help them determine what matters most to them and what they want but are willing to compromise on. A priority list helps organize a family’s wants in a format that allows them to more easily weigh pros and cons as they go on their rental search.

Find Reliable, Varied Sources

Now that you’ve gone over the type of features you want from a rental property, you can start to do more research into the different properties available. For the best results, you want to use reliable sources, such as Zillow or Avoid depending only on social media sources. Varying your sources helps you get the best information and will ensure you see all your options.

Know Warning Signs

Research suggests that scams cost renters millions of dollars in the United States each year. There are some key indicators that let you know you may be dealing with a scam:

  • An offer seems too good to be true
  • The listing doesn’t give a lot of details about the rental property
  • The landlord will not let you see the rental before renting
  • The landlord wants to urgently close the deal and rushes through the process

These warning signs are strong indicators that you should back away from a rental or do further research and think very carefully before continuing.

Get Professional Help

While most people automatically think of a real estate agent when they are buying a house, many people don’t realize how useful it can be to have a realtor for rentals. An agent is a great resource because they listen to a client’s needs and they use analytical tools to determine which options will be best for their clients.  A professional can streamline the process and make it tons easier for busy families.

Be Realistic About Your Needs

It’s going to be hard to find a rental property that fits any one person’s wants, let alone those of an entire family, so it’s crucial to be realistic about the kind of properties that are available and use the tools listed herein to come to the most balanced decision.

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