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If you’ve been on the hunt for a suitable rental, you probably know that the market is fiercely competitive, and finding a livable space that checks all your boxes—from location to budget—can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, there’s a big difference between searching on your own and enlisting the help of an agent. Asking the right questions can help you narrow down your options, ensure you find the best possible match and secure your dream rental property.

Is this too good to be true?
Tenants know that there is no such thing as “free,” and when it comes to rental properties, you get what you pay for. Working alongside a qualified agent will help you to avoid being swindled by landlords. Although your agent is there to make sure you find the best possible property for your specific needs, they will also step in and sound the alarm when red flags appear.

Are there any hidden costs?
Often, tenants become starry-eyed and enchanted by a property they love so much that they are quick to overlook the fine print. Landlords don’t always tell their tenants upfront if there are extra costs besides the monthly rent and utilities, such as service charges. It’s up to you and your agent to figure out if you’re unknowingly agreeing to extra payments. Always be wary.

Are there any restrictive clauses?
In the era of Airbnb, more and more tenants are leaving their properties unattended for months on end. It’s not uncommon to hear about extended subleases while tenants travel the world, study abroad or head home to be with a sick relative. However, some landlords have clauses refusing subleases. If you’re a jetsetter who frequently travels for work or you simply have commitment issues, you will want to know ahead of time whether or not it’s legal for you to sublet your place or not.

Will your pet cost you?
Pet owners know the struggle: finding your dream listing and then reading the words “no dogs or cats allowed.” It gets slightly more complicated when you take into consideration the fact that some landlords technically allow pets but demand larger deposits if you’re an owner. This isn’t illegal, but it can be sneaky. If it’s a deal-breaker, ask your agent to focus on properties that are pet-friendly only.