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How to Rent Your First House or Apartment

By Bill Gassett | November 26, 2020

What to Know About Renting For The First Time

Are you thinking of moving out of your parent's home and renting your first house or apartment? When you rent your first home, there are things you should know to avoid the pitfalls that could put you at odds with your landlord.

Renting a house could involve some things you aren't aware of, so allow us to give you the knowledge to help you find your ideal home with the minimum stress.

One of the first things you'll need to figure out is whether you want to rent a house or an apartment. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options that you'll want to reconcile. What might be great for one person could be completely different for another. You should understand the upsides and downsides of each before making a final decision.

Maximum Real Estate Exposure provides an in-depth accounting of renting an apartment and renting a home so you can make an informed decision. You'll find some excellent comparisons between each living situation. You may find what you can spend will go a long way towards influencing your decision.

Rent Your First Home or Apartment

Your Budget is Critical

Before you even begin searching for your perfect rental home or apartment, you need to know how much money you have available to spend each month. Add up all your income, and then look for a property that doesn't cost more than a third of that figure.

In more costly housing areas, this could mean you only end up with a small apartment. But keeping your rental costs down will allow you enough room in your budget to pay for the utilities and other expenses. If you are not in an expensive city, renting an apartment may be your best choice due to the expense.

Setting your budget is an essential tip when renting for the first time.

What do you Really Need in a Home?

There will be many features that you would love to have in a home but aren't completely essential. You might need a certain amount of living space and rooms, while other things like having a great view aren't must-haves.

Deciding what features you must have should be at the top of your list of priorities. For example, you may decide that a garage is a must. If that's the case, renting a house might be an easier option to find that amenity.

Maybe you travel a lot and need a place where you'll have to do less of your own maintenance? If that sounds like your circumstance, a condo or a townhouse with an association must be your best bet.

Online Searches Are Helpful

When you know what you can afford and what you really need in a home, you can begin to search. Many websites can help you find a house to rent, and then you should make checks to make sure it's really the right place for you.

If you're looking for an apartment, you might find some reviews left by people who lived there. This could give you some valuable information about what it will be like to live in that development.

Visiting the Home is Key

Even if you have found out a lot about the property online, you still need to visit in person when renting a house. There is only so much you can find out online without going to the area or the home.

When you attend the property showing, make sure to look out for any potential problems, like water damage or evidence of pests. If there are any problems found, you need to ensure that the landlord will have them repaired before you move in.

Asking Questions is Essential

When visiting the property and speaking to the landlord or manager, make sure you are prepared to ask many questions. You need to know about the property's amenities and utilities to see if it fits your requirements.

You should find out what the landlord's maintenance schedule is and learn about their rules regarding pets and visitors. This will tell you what is expected of you and alert you to potential problems as well. If the development doesn't have many rules, you are subjected to unwanted disturbance from your neighbors' pets or guests.

Find out if the landlord will allow you to make minor changes, like painting rooms or hanging pictures. If you have plans to make any larger changes to the property, you should always notify your landlord in advance to check that it is allowed.

Is the rental partly furnished? Make sure you know what furniture will be left in the home when you move in.

Pro rental tip: If you are renting a home and have long-term aspirations of ownership, ask the landlord if they would consider a rent-to-own agreement. By doing so, you'll be able to contribute a portion of your rent each month to the purchase of the property.

Understanding Lease Terms is a Must

You need to find out about the lease, how long it will be, and are you allowed to break it early. There could be many reasons why this might be important. For example, if you are just starting out, you might find a new job opportunity comes up, which means you need to move to a different city.

You need to understand what will be included in the rent. Does it cover your utilities or not. Are you required to have renters insurance, and when will the rent be due. If you are familiar with the lease details, you should have a better relationship with your landlord.

Often when you rent a house, you need to pay some money upfront. This is in addition to a security deposit and could be a few months’ rent. Check what other fees the landlord will need you to pay as well, as they may have an application fee or other charges.

If you are going to be renting the house with roommates, make sure they are on the lease as well. They should have an equal share in the responsibility of paying the rent on time. If you don't do this, you could find yourself having more stress through your roommate’s lack of responsible behavior.

Landlord Checks Are Standard

If you are happy with the home and want to rent it, you need to be ready for the landlord's checks. They want to find out if you will make a good tenant that will pay on time. This will mean running credit checks on you, asking you for documentation as well as personal references. If you pass these checks, moving into your new home won't be too far away.

It's Time to Move

When moving from your parents to your first rental, you'll need to decide whether you'll be making the move on your own or hiring professionals. If you decide friends are all you need getting a moving truck from a reputable local company will be helpful.

If you decide, you need a moving company, make sure you do your homework. Unfortunately, the moving industry is ripe for scams.

Look for a moving company that has a long history of performance. Check references and do a Google search on the company to see any negative reviews or horror stories.

Final Thoughts on Renting a First Apartment or House

Going out on your own for the first time is a big step in one's life. When renting a house or apartment for the first time, you need to be prepared both financially and emotionally.

Doing proper due diligence will go a long way towards your happiness and confidence you made the right choice.

Hopefully, you have found our guide to renting for the first time to be useful.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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