Renting A Place Without Seeing It In Person

Friday, October 31, 2014

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A fundamental rule in apartment hunting is never rent a place without actually seeing it in person. In certain instances though, this rule must be broken. Some extenuating circumstances make it physically impossible for a potential renter to see a place in person.


This is often the case for international students, as well as some students from out-of-state or province. These students must resort to renting an accommodation before being able to step foot in it.


So how can these students make an educated decision on what place to rent?


The solution is research, research and more research! If a renter cannot physically visit and view available rental accommodations, it’s best to try and compile as much information about the properties as possible. Here are a range of options to utilize.


  • Online Rental Listings: This is typically how renters find primary information about available rental accommodations near an academic institution. Online listings will usually include essential information like the address, price, photos, floor plans, a brief description, lease details, landlord contact information, etc. We highly recommend!
  • Google Maps: After obtaining the address and location of a property, the next step is to take a neighborhood tour through Google Maps. The ’Street-View’ feature will provide a fairly good representation of the neighborhood and surrounding area. It shows additional information such as nearby stores and restaurants, public transportation, etc. Thorough online rental listings usually include this feature within the listing itself, to assist with a student’s search process.
  • Walk Score: In addition to Google Maps, it’s wise to check the property’s Walk Score; especially if walking or biking will be the student’s primary means of transportation. Walk Score’s main attribute is that it shows how walkable a property is, according to its location and what’s nearby. Walk Score also has features that include details about local crime and safety, citizen comments and more. 
  • Online Reviews: It’s advisable to take online reviews with a grain of salt, but they can be a great resource to find out what other people are saying about a rental accommodation. It’s fairly easy to find online reviews for apartments and communities, but more difficult for single-family dwellings which are owned by independent landlords. If a rental accommodation has a lot of negative reviews, it’s probably best to avoid it. The two most popular sources for reviews are Google Reviews and Yelp.
  • Virtual/Skype Tours: Some modern apartment communities have virtual tours on their websites which allow renters to view units online. The virtual tour usually showcases a unit that has been staged and often is not the actual unit available for rent, but it gives renters an idea of what some units look like. Potential tenants can also ask for a Skype tour, if a virtual tour isn’t available online. During this Skype walkthrough, the potential tenant can ask questions at the same time.
  • Ask A Friend: Students with a family member, friend or colleague already living in the city they will be moving to, can ask the person to preview a property on their behalf. This would be ideal, if possible.


While it’s best to try and avoid renting an accommodation sight unseen, sometimes it’s unavoidable. In such cases, the research options listed above will help renters to gain as much information as possible about a property, without seeing it in person.


SEE ALSO: Must-Ask Questions For Your New Landlord


The Team