My First Rental and the mistakes to avoid.

One of the first “adult” things you’ll likely do when you head out on your own is rent a house and make your life independent. The process can be a big challenge for a first-time renter. Many questions and many concerns, and a single objective: to find the perfect rent according to our budget.

Know what you can afford.

Take a look at your monthly income. Experts recommend only spending between 25%-35% of your after-tax income on rent and housing. You also need to take into account that you may be responsible for some of the utility costs of your rental. So you’ll need to figure in another $100+ to cover those costs.

Keep in mind that some rents have income requirements that will put you out of the running altogether.

Create an idea of your perfect rent.

What are you looking for in a rental? Do you want a studio or a single bedroom? Maybe you want to rent a small house? Do you want it to be close to your kids school or your work? Do want it to be within walking distance of retail, like groceries or coffee shops? Are you willing to live in a neighborhood known for its crime levels?

Write down whatever comes to your mind. While you might not be able to get everything on your house wish list, it will definitely help in narrowing down the possibilities.

Identify potential rents.

With your list of criteria in hand and an idea of what you want, you can start searching for rents, and the first place is simply, began the search by Googling: “The place that you want a house for rent.” Google actually brings you all places or most that are in rent in your city, and here you can identify potential rents.

Make a good first impression.

When you visit a potential rent, the landlord or apartment manager will be evaluating you just like you’re evaluating them. They want to make sure the people they rent to are reliable, courteous, and easy to get along with. Your first impression starts with the phone call to set up the appointment. Be polite and speak clearly.

As you look at the rental unit, keep your comments positive and your possible complaints close to your vest. No need to spout off a list of upgrades and requests before you’re even offered the place. That will just scare landlords away from you. Wait to bring up your concerns until after you’ve been accepted as a renter.

Check for problems.

As you walk through the house, check the following things, but again, don’t broadcast your concerns right away:

  • Look for signs of mold, mildew, and insect infestation.
  • Open and close all the doors and windows, and also check that the locks function properly.
  • Flush the toilet and run the water in the sinks and showers. Pay attention to water pressure and temperature.
  • Look for obvious damage like broken fixtures, holes in walls, broken tile, etc.
  • Check for wear and tear in the carpet.

Dowload our Free Landlord / Tenant Check List.

Ask questions.

While you should keep small concerns to yourself about the unit while looking at it, feel free to ask the landlord or apartment manager any questions you might have that will help in your decision.

Get any oral promises in writing.

If the landlord made any oral promises to you while you were looking at the house, get those promises written in the lease.

Inspect the House Before Taking Possession.

Before you take possession of the house, the landlord should give you a Landlord-Tenant Checklist that lists all the rooms, fixtures, and appliances in the house. Inspect the house and make note of the condition of the various items on the list. If you notice any damage, make sure to photograph it, and point it out to the landlord or manager. Be as thorough as possible during this inspection. This will protect you from forfeiting your security deposit for damage that already existed before you took possession.

And the last step Signing the Lease (or Rental Agreement).

After your rental application has been approved, the landlord will ask you to come to the office and sign a lease. This is where you can bring up any concerns you had about the rental unit, as well as negotiate for better terms or perks. You need to be on your game during this time, because once you sign your name on that dotted line, you’re pretty much stuck with the terms written in the lease.