Things to Know Before You Rent

 With graduation on the horizon, I have been going through the apartment hunting process. In some ways it is exciting and in others anxiety inducing. As I have researched and talked to multiple landlords, I came up with a list of things I have learned that I wish I knew before I signed my first lease almost two years ago. This list is not exhaustive, but it is a good summary of my top three tips for future renters!

Prepare Ahead of Time

Before you can sign that lease, there are a few things your landlord will want ahead of time.

  • Valid I.D. – Many places will not let you tour their apartment unless you have your I.D. with you.

  • References – Pastors, Youth Leaders, Professors, and Resident Directors are great people to ask for references.

  • Credit Score – Some businesses will do a credit check on you to make sure you are reliable. Keep up a good credit score by paying your bills on time, paying your credit cards in full and on time, and maintaining a long history with creditors!

  • Paystubs/Offer Letters – Most businesses require that you make or will make a monthly income of 2-3x the rent. If you do not make that amount, then you might want to look for something more affordable. The general rule is that rent should not be more than 30% of your income.

Account for The Startup Costs

When you are renting a new apartment or house, there are a lot more costs to consider than just the rent.

  • Application Fee – If you are applying to a larger business, they often have application fees. These can range from $25-$100+! Take into consideration how long they will hold your application as well. Some businesses keep it for a year; others will only keep it for a week.

  • Administrative Costs – These are the fees to cover the costs for pulling your credit, doing a background check, and filing the paperwork. These fees can range from $100-$400 and are non-refundable.

  • Security Deposit – The average deposit is one month’s rent, but it can be as much as three month’s rent. You will get this deposit back at the end of your tenancy as long as you do not violate any lease terms or cause damage to the apartment/house.

  • Utilities – If you are responsible for setting up your own utility accounts, then expect to pay security deposits for each new account that you start.

Take Time to Review the Lease

A lease is a legal document, an agreement between the landlord and the tenant. As with any legal issue, take the time to read it carefully.

  • Know Your Rights – both landlords and tenants have rights protected by the law. Make sure you are familiar with your rights so you can protect yourself.

  • Ask Questions – If you do not understand something in the lease, ask your landlord to clarify. Do not sign something if you do not understand how it works.

  • Get it in Writing – If your landlord agrees to do something make sure you get it in writing. This ensures that there is no confusion about whose responsibility belongs to whom.

Renting is an exciting step into independent adulthood! It has taught me many things about the responsibilities and costs of living. If you are planning to rent in the future, schedule a NEXUS appointment! We are here to help you take the steps towards responsible stewardship of your finances and renting is one way you can practice good financial habits!