First-Time Renting Tips
Renting an apartment for the first time is an exciting experience as this transition typically ushers in a new life of independence, responsibility and true adulthood. Whether a renter is just moving out of his parents’ house or he has never rented before, first time renters should follow several tips to ensure the end result is a happy and warm home.
Rental Tip #1 – Be Financially Ready
First time renters may not be aware that the first month of living in an apartment is by far the most expensive. Along with the standard rent, a typical apartment requires the following: first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit. This means, a $600 apartment would require $1,200 plus the security deposit before he can move in. When searching for an apartment, make sure to call the landlord to determine the financial requirements of signing the lease.
Rental Tip #2 – Stay Within Budget
Although the market price for apartments vary according to the city and neighborhood, it is important to never sign a lease that is more than 1/3 of total gross income. This means if a renter makes $3,000 per month he should never pay more than $1,000 per month on rent. It is important to also take into account monthly utilities. Ask the landlord what utilities, if any, are covered in rent and what the average utilities are for summer, fall, winter and spring months. Take note, living in a gas-heated apartment is typically more expensive than an all-electric apartment. Do not make the mistake of signing a lease that consumes most of a monthly budget.
Rental Tip #3 – Complex or Private Property?
Renters have their choice of living in an apartment complex or renting directly from a private landlord. Each living space has benefits and drawbacks; however, first time renters may not be aware of these differences. One of the primary benefits of living in a complex is the property is managed by professionals who strive to ensure all repairs are done promptly and residents experience a safe and comfortable living environment. Complexes also offer amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools and business centers. However, complex apartment floorplans typically follow similar patterns, which result in a cookie-cutter appearance especially among the more cost-effective apartments.
Private properties such as single family homes, duplexes or basement apartments typically do not offer complex-type amenities like fitness centers, swimming pools or a dedicated repair staff; however, these apartments may provide a more unique floorplan highlighted by character and charm.
First time renters should look at a variety of apartment types including complex and private property units to determine what type fits his needs best.
Rental Tip #4 – Understanding Lease Agreements
Whether a renter finds a complex apartment or a private property, he will be required to sign a lease agreement. First time renters should have the lease agreement fully explained by the property manager or landlord, and he should ask as many questions as necessary. Fully understanding the lease agreement is the tenants’ responsibility, and the agreement should never be signed until the renter understands each clause within the lease.
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