There has been numerous attempts to scam people out of their hard earned money. Unfortunately, Craigslist does not confirm the ownership or the identity of the posters so we cannot prevent unauthorized posts pretending to be legitimate. Please be sure to always contact the agency through a recognized real estate listing agency such as Zillow, Rently or the particular company website directly.
Below are renter tips for those who need to go into the renter's search market. The Hampton Roads area is home a large transient population and many of you may not have all the time you wished to find the rental home that suits your needs.
The suggestions below are in no specific order of importance but hopefully may help reduce the stress of searching for that new place!
Avoid blind renting
If you're moving into the area and are not familiar at all with the new location, avoid renting a place beforehand. It's better to spend 2 weeks in an extended stay hotel to allow at least some time to familiarize yourself with the location than getting stuck on a one year lease at a location that you don't like. Only you can decide if the location suits your needs so don't leave it to the Real Estate Agent to choose for you. Spend the time to go and check travel times and distances to work and other places you intent to visit frequently.
Do your own research on the area
Don't ask the Real Estate agent if that's a "good or bad area". For one, they're not allowed to express their opinions, but even if they did, it's on your best interest for you to find out if you will feel comfortable in a specific area. You can pull up the schools and neighborhood information easily online for free in places like Trulia and the like.
Inquire about the qualification criteria before applying.
Landlords should have a criteria for approving applications and knowing before hand what they expect should save you time and effort in the process.
Get your credit score before searching.
Most places will pull your credit before as part of the application process. Some also pull your background. Knowing your credit score before hand should reduce the stress on the application. Pulling your credit will also give you a chance to review if there are any errors that need to be corrected. You can pull your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com or creditkarma.com and other places.
Introduce yourself to your potential landlord.
When using an online search tool, it's very tempting to click on properties that appear to interest you, and then wait to be contacted later on. Remember that you are competing with dozens or hundreds of people at any given time. Landlords will not have time to respond to every inquiry on the internet and those who have provided more information about themselves and what they're looking for are much more likely to get a faster response. When you find a property that you like, add your personal notes regarding pets, move in timeframe and your preference for viewing the property.
Review the Lease.
Once you find a place you like ask to see a copy of the lease or ask questions to make sure the terms will be agreeable to you. Some places will ask for a separate "pet rent" or will have terms that may be not in your best interest. If the lease is not available, you can ask questions such as the penalty for early termination of the lease and late fees for non payment on time. The time to review the lease is before you get to the signing table, not after you've given your security deposit to hold the place.
Make sure the house listed is not a scam!
If the advertised price for a house is too good to be true, then there's probably something wrong with that picture. Advertisements with only one picture from the outside are suspicious. Blurry pictures also. Some scammers are not that easy to point out so when in doubt, double check the facts!