Checklist to rent a house in India

I like checklists. They give me confidence that I’ve covered everything of importance, and if I did miss something, I can go back and update the checklist so that I don’t miss it the next time. I recently shifted cities and had to look for a new place to rent. I prepared this checklist to keep track of things we want to have in the new house.

In the last decade, I’ve lived in 3 rented houses. This list reflects my preferences. Please conduct your research based on your requirements. I’m sharing it here with the hope that it helps someone and that others can build on top of it.

So without further adieu, here’s the (check)list:

  1. Water supply – 24/7 or scheduled water supply, whatever works for you.
  2. Natural light – It’s nice to have the artificial lights turned off during the day.
  3. Floor number – Avoid the top floor to keep heat away during summers. I prefer anything below the 2nd floor since I take my cycle up for some maintenance at times.
  4. Earthing – Check earthing in at least a couple of sockets in different rooms. Depending on how old the construction of the house is, you may or may not have it.
  5. Garbage collection – We segregate our garbage. It’s nice to have it collected by a local garbage collection body so that it is appropriately processed.
  6. Deliveries – Whether Amazon and other vendors deliver to that location.
  7. Pets – Whether the owners are OK with you having pets.
  8. Maid – Check if there are housemaids/helpers available for hire in the neighbourhood.
  9. Furnishings – Having some furnishings (fans, shelves) is helpful if you don’t wish to spend too much money after moving in.
  10. Shelves – Not a deal-breaker, but good to have, especially in the kitchen.
  11. Drilling holes – Are the owners OK with you drilling holes into the wall? It might be required if there are no shelves in the house.
  12. Washing machine setup – Having a permanent washing machine setup is convenient, usually available on the balcony for most new apartments.
  13. Security – Having a security guard is handy to receive deliveries when you are not around. Certainly not a deal-breaker.
  14. Shaded parking area for vehicles

Rental agreement

Before we start: I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

Other than the standard stuff, here’s what I look at carefully in a rental agreement:

  1. A rental agreement is a must if you plan to claim HRA. Additionally, if the annual rent is more than 1 lakh rupees, the PAN card of the owner is necessary when filing your taxes.
  2. Review the duration of the agreement, and ask about the rent increase when you sign it again.
  3. Most rental agreements will have a clause about damages. Ensure that this does not apply to general wear and tear through daily usage. Wall paint wears off over time and can get smudges. Fans slow down overtime etc. Figure out what you are expected to pay for.
  4. If you plan to claim HRA, it is necessary to transfer the monthly rent to the owner’s bank account rather than paying by cash. It ensures that there is proof of payment.

Where to look?

I’ve found the following websites reliable when looking for houses either for renting or buying:

  • 99 Acres – Provides owner’s phone numbers without making any payment.
  • Nobroker – Reliable. Provides moving services that we’ve used. Not available in all cities.

Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for the content on these websites.

If these websites are not helpful, you can contact local brokers who should be able to help you.

General advice

And finally, some general advice that you can safely choose to ignore:

  • Take photos of the house and close up shots of places with preexisting damages. Share this with the owner before or as soon as you move in.
  • If something stops working, report it to the owner, discuss who should foot the bill and get it fixed.
  • Get a sense of the owners. It’s nice to have owners who are understanding.
  • Treat the house like you would your own.
  • If you plan to stay for a short duration, avoid filling the house with too much stuff.

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