Renting your first property can be an exciting time, but it is easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do. You have to consider prices, locations, square footage, and so much more to find the property that is perfect for you. If you are in the market for your very first rental, you might need a little guidance along the way.
Here are a few tips to help smooth the process for first-time renters:
1. Set a Budget
When first-time renters start touring properties, they are often drawn to bigger units with more square footage and amenities. Unfortunately, these properties may be out of reach for them financially but they do not realize it without having a proper budget in place.
Experts recommend that you spend no more than thirty percent of your gross income on rent. Make sure that you take time to see how much you make and can comfortably spend before your heart is set on a particular property.
2. Make a List of Priorities
Everyone has certain features and attributes that they want in a new home. Whether you need to be close to public transportation or need a gym membership included, you should know what things you are and are not willing to negotiate.
This can make finding the right property for you much simpler. Make sure there is a distinction between your needs and wants. Items that you want could be negotiable for the right price, but needs can never change.
3. Understand the Application Process
It is important to fully understand the application process. Most renters will need to fill out an application and submit to a credit check. If you have no credit to your name, then you may be required to have a guarantor or co-signer on your lease. Without this additional person in the process, there is a chance that you will not be able to rent at all.
4. Do a Real-Life Walk-through
Many properties offer virtual tours of their apartments or homes in lieu of real-life walk-throughs. Whenever possible, first-time renters should prioritize seeing the property in person before the day when they are scheduled to move in.
Check to make sure that the apartment is everything you thought it would be. Test electrical outlets, run water through the faucets and check the air conditioner to make sure it runs. You want to get a realistic sense of what it would be like to live here, so don’t be shy about doing a thorough inspection.
5. Ask About Utilities
Some apartments come with utilities included while others will charge you separately. Be sure to ask upfront about which expenses are included in the monthly rent. This can dramatically impact your budget.
If you are a first-time renter, there may be additional fees waiting for you when you set up new accounts with utility providers like the water and electric companies. These setup fees are standard practice for most utilities, including cable or internet.
6. Sign Up for Tenant’s Insurance
Tenant’s insurance (sometimes referred to as renter’s insurance) is an absolute must-have for all renters. A good policy should cover your belongings from both theft and fire.
It includes coverage for your property, personal liability coverage, and even temporary housing if your current apartment or home is deemed unfit for some reason. Insurance is often required by property management companies anyway.
7. Read through the Lease
Once you sign on the dotted line, there is no going back. Make sure that you read through the lease and thoroughly understand all aspects of it before you put your pen to the page.
Otherwise, you might be on the hook for extra expenses, fees, or penalties for things you did not expect. Ask questions before signing your lease agreement in order to feel comfortable and ensure there are no surprises.
When it comes down to it, first-time renters really just need to pay attention to the properties that they look at. Knowing what you need and want from a property is key to finding the right space, but you also need to take the proper steps to protect yourself.
Do a final walk-through, sign up for tenant’s insurance, and read through the lease carefully. With some of these helpful tips, you will be well on your way to success with your first rental property!