So you’ve saved up some money and landed a good job. Now you’re ready to become a first time renter, well there are things that you need to know. Keep in mind that moving out of the Valdosta State dorms or your parents house means learning to pay bills on time!
Budget Smart to Avoid Hassles
Know what you can afford to pay for rent up front. Ideally, rent should make up less than 30 percent of your income. Being certain you can afford the rent is important.
Make yourself a budget checklist with your overhead costs for each rental you’re considering. Carry this worksheet whenever you’re apartment or house hunting. Make notes about deposits, policies, and which utilities each landlord pays. Remind yourself of the amenities and drawbacks for each unit before making a commitment.
Make a Good Impression on Property Managers, Sales Agents, or Landlords
You may have heard that the rental market is competitive across the country. It’s true. So, when you’re ready to rent, bring all the paper work you need with you.
If you have no credit or rental history, start with this 4-step plan:
- Be ready to show income and dates of employment. Provide contact information for at least one work reference.
- Have at least one bank account, preferably two, a checking and a savings. Demonstrate financial planning by having the first three months of your rent covered.
- If someone who is qualified is willing to co-sign for you, bring him or her along. Have a co-signer agreement ready, so that all you need are signatures and dates.
- Bring along contact information for two or more character references, such as teachers, mentors or friends.
Most of this information can be used to fill out a rental application, a standard form most landlords require. This allows the landlord to conduct background and credit checks.
Always get a receipt for any fees, deposits, or rent you pay.
Securing Your First Rental
A lease is a legally binding document. Be certain that you understand what’s covered in a residential lease agreement. Ask your landlord, or a lawyer any questions before signing a lease.
One-time fees such as security, pet, and utilities deposits can add up. Your first month in a new apartment can easily reach triple your normal monthly budget. The good news: If you take care of the property, and abide by the lease, you should get some, or all, of your deposits back when you move.
Inspect your new apartment. Write down any concerns or necessary repairs on a renter’s inspection worksheet. This allows you to notify the landlord about problems, and get them fixed right away.
As a tenant, it’s your right to live in a safe and habitable environment. Both you and your landlord have certain maintenance responsibilities for the apartment. It’s always good idea to put your tenant repair requests in writing or when provided an online property management request system, these usually log an track everything, as well as send you email you can store and track.
Never let a structural defect, health hazard, or community concern just sit. Telling your landlord about problems immediately can protect you from liability when you move out.