We want to help our residents and potential residents lease and move into homes that they love. So, we’re talking to Tampa residents today about how to lease a home. It seems like something that should be easy enough, but there’s a lot out there that can be confusing.

If you are looking to lease a rental property in Tampa, there are some right ways to rent a home and some wrong ways to rent a home.

Look for Available Tampa Rental Listings

The days of hopping in the car and driving around your favorite neighborhoods to find a home for rent are long gone. While it’s still important that you get out there and find a property that will fit your needs and desires and budget, you’re doing it a little differently these days.

Most smart tenants are finding their next home online.

Get on some of the great rental websites so you can look at a large selection of rental homes. Some of the sites we suggest include Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, and Zumper. Even Craigslist can be a good resource, although you have to be careful with Craigslist. It’s easy to get scammed on that site, and we’ve heard a lot of horror stories about tenants who sent money before seeing a property. You have to do your due diligence and you have to ask a lot of questions. Don’t trust people who can’t show you the property and don’t waste your time on ads that don’t have pictures or seem to have a rental price that’s dramatically lower than it should be.

Avoid the scams. Get in touch with the right person, and make sure you can access the rental property before you hand over any persona information or pay any money.

If you see one property renting for $850 on Craigslist, and the same rental listing on another site has that home renting for $1,500, you know you should be suspicious. Contact the right person and ask the right questions.

Communicate with Prospective Landlords and Property Managers

When you’re trying to rent a property, you don’t want to be over-persistent, but remember that the squeaky wheel often gets the grease. When you see a property and you like it, don’t wait for other prospective residents to make a move. You need to take action quickly and apply for the property.

Every management company and landlord will have a different application process. In general, you should expect to have to fill out a form and provide some supporting documentation. Make sure you understand the process, and don’t delay in providing the information that’s requested. Most Tampa homes receive interest from several residents at a time, and you don’t want to lose the home you love just because someone else acted fast and you didn’t.

The property manager or the landlord will gather all of your information, conduct a background check and additional checks, and then make a decision. Once you are approved for the property, you’ll discuss the next steps including the lease signing and move-in date.

During this process you do want to be forthcoming and transparent. You don’t want to be non-responsive and secretive.

Avoiding Scams: Deal with Professional Agents and Managers

When you’re contacting people online about properties for rent, it’s hard to know who you’re really dealing with. The best way to protect yourself is by working with a licensed real estate agent or a professional property manager. Individuals in this business can help you find the right property and protect you from potentially illegal situations.

Trust your instincts when it comes to red flags as well. If you’re looking at a rental ad on Craigslist and there are no pictures, you should be suspicious. Run away from that situation. If you can’t see pictures with a listing, you don’t really know what you’re looking at and you don’t even know who is renting to you.

Other ways to operate your due diligence:

Ask a lot of questions. See how detailed people are willing to be with their answers. This will tell you if they really have a relationship with the property.
Make sure you can get into a property before ever sending a security deposit or any other form of payment.
Don’t rent a home just because you like the pictures. Make sure you can get inside and walk through it.
Don’t wire any money without seeing the home and filling out a complete application.

Not everyone you encounter on Craigslist is going to run a scam. But, if you see red flags, you should trust your instincts and continue asking questions. You never want to exchange any financial currency until you’ve verified you’re speaking to the owner or the landlord or the property manager or the rental agent.

Sometimes, it’s in your best interests to slow down. It’s possible to slow things down in order to speed things up.

Be cautious. Don’t rush into renting a home just because it seems like a great deal. The best thing you can do is go directly to a real estate agent or a professional property manager. While real estate agents usually deal with buying and selling homes, a professional will be willing to help you find a great rental. And, property managers really understand the rental market and can show you properties that meet the needs you’ve shared with them.

If you’re a resident looking for a home in Tampa, please contact us at Mynd Property Management. We can give you more information on the properties we have available, and we can also help you through the leasing process in general.