Practical Tips for First-time Renters
What should you consider when renting? Here are 7 helpful tips for first-time renters to think about before signing up for a property.
If you’re a first-time renter, there are many factors that you need to include when searching for the perfect condo or apartment for rent. Among the most important are location and price. But aside from these, you also need to consider other things when looking for your first rental home to avoid possible issues in the future.
If you don’t know where to start, here are our 7 must-read tips for first-time renters:
Know your budget and save up
Before you start looking for a studio apartment or condo for rent, you must know your budget first. It is easy for first-time renters to underestimate their budget or overestimate how much they can spend on rent. As a good rule of thumb, your rent expenses must not go beyond 30% of your gross income.
If you don’t want to compromise your other expenses, you should do your best to keep your rental expenses below 30%. You can look for a roommate and have them split the rent with you.
Once you’ve determined your rent budget, it’s time for you to save up! A good amount would be at least two months’ worth of rent. Saving up this much will give you enough backup money and help you avoid paying late fees in case of a financial crisis.
To help you set up your rent budget, read on to our next tips for first-time renters.
Consider your future expenses
Before you set your budget, make sure to consider all possible costs. You may decide to rent an apartment, a house, or even just a room. Regardless of the type of property, your total expenses will be more than just your rental costs. Knowing other possible expenses before you move out will help you prepare a realistic budget.
Here are some of the expenses you should consider when making a budget:
- moving costs
- monthly utilities, like electric and internet
- one-time security deposit to cover unexpected damages
- first month’s rent to secure the apartment
- furnishing your new place (furniture, home appliances, etc.)
- fees for amenities like parking spots
- ongoing costs of living on your own
- renter’s insurance
Prepare all the requirements you need to rent a property
Renting an apartment, condo, or house is like applying for a job — you need to attach certain documents in your rental application.
While you’re still searching for your first apartment, it’s wise to prepare all your documents in advance. Believe it or not, the rental market is fierce, especially for first-time renters. Preparing documents as early as possible will ease up this process for you.
Requirements may differ depending on your locality and landlord. It won’t hurt to have the following beforehand:
- bank statements
- proof of identification
- vehicle registration and proof of insurance
- social security number
- rental history
- professional and personal references
- job history/resume
- pet information
Make a list of questions to ask the landlord
When you have shortlisted the properties you want to rent, it’s time to go for in-person viewings. Before you go, however, you should prepare a list of important questions to ask your landlord.
Here are some questions that you may include:
- Are utilities and amenities included in the rent?
- How much is the grace period for rent payment?
- What happens if you need to break or extend the lease?
- How much do you need to pay for the security deposit?
- Is there a pet policy and will you need to pay a pet deposit?
- Does the landlord require you to pay a renter’s insurance?
- What will your responsibilities be as a tenant and are they fully detailed in the lease?
- How do you submit tenant requests (e.g., repair) and complaints?
- What are forbidden activities on the property (e.g., painting walls, installing satellite dishes and cable, kids, guests, loud noises at certain times of day, etc)
- Is there available parking on the property? Is there a cost associated with parking?
- What can you expect about the landlord entering the property while you live there? This, too, should be spelled out in the lease.
- What is the process for moving in and moving out? Are there days of the week or times of day when moving trucks aren’t allowed?
- What do you need to know about garbage collection and recycling on the property?
Pro tip: Before you go for an in-person viewing, you can schedule a virtual house tour with your landlord. Read here for more house-hunting tips.
Check out the neighborhood and your future neighbors
Your neighbors can greatly affect your whole renting experience. Before you sign a lease, you should investigate your neighborhood first.
Here are some important factors that you need to look into when checking your neighborhood:
- crime rates
- school quality
- residents overall satisfaction in their community
To research your prospective neighborhood, you can check free property listing and management apps like Ziba Property.
Read the lease agreement carefully
When you sign a lease, you are agreeing to all the terms and conditions in the agreement, as well as the length of your lease and the rental costs. Thus, you need to understand the lease completely before you sign it.
In addition to your questions to landlords, here are other questions you can ask when reading the lease agreement:
- Are there terms regarding subletting?
- What are the penalties for damage?
- How many people are allowed to live on the property?
- How many parking spaces are you entitled to?
- What utilities and amenities (cable, Wi-Fi, etc.) are included in the rent?
- What are the policies on noise, guests, and overnight parking?
Use a free real estate listing app
Using real estate software, like Ziba Property, will help you find condos or apartments for first-time renters faster.
Ziba Property is a property management software designed to connect tenants and property seekers to landlords and property managers. You can search for the best rental apartment and condo online with Ziba Property and contact property managers directly. You can also search for nearby businesses and services, to see which lifestyle amenities are available in your desired neighborhood. With its cloud-based software, you can contact property managers or agents anytime, anywhere.
Once you become a successful tenant on a registered condo or apartment in Ziba Property, you can easily submit requests and incident reports to your landlord using the app. You can even submit complaints anonymously or contact your property manager and neighbors without having to reveal your personal information if you prefer. To learn more, read our guide for tenants here.
Moving in for the first time can be nerve-wracking. But with proper preparation, this transition in your life can be smoother than you expected. And research is a great way to prepare.
To recap, here are some of our first-time renters advice:
- Know your budget and save up
- Consider your future expenses
- Prepare all the requirements
- Make a list of questions to ask your future landlord
- Check out the neighborhood
- Read the lease agreement
- Use a free real estate listing app
If you want more renting tips for first-time renters, read our article about online property search.