Know Before You Rent

Tips for First Time Renters

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Moving out on your own for the very first time is exciting and liberating, but it can also be scary. And as with anything else in life, it’s important to set out on the right foot. There are a few things you can do to make your first renting experience a success.

By following a few basic tips, you’ll help ensure that your first rental experience is a positive one:

* Make sure you can afford the rent. If you’ve never budgeted for housing expenses, it can be difficult to estimate whether or not you can afford to live in a certain house or apartment. If you don’t already have a household budget, now is the time to start. Run through your expenses from the last month to get an idea of what you can afford. Housing experts recommend paying  no more than 30 percent of your take-home pay for rent. Late payments or an eviction will put a black mark on your rental history report, so don’t guess when it comes to what might be affordable.

* Get it in the lease. Reviewing the lease is important for all renters, but novices should be sure to spend a little extra time reviewing their rental agreements. Be clear on which responsibilities are yours and which ones are your landlord’s.

* Factor in hidden costs. If you’ve never rented before, you likely have no idea what to expect in terms of heating, electric and water bills. If these costs aren’t part of your rental agreement, be sure to get an estimate from your landlord before you sign a lease, so you can factor them into your budget.

* Be ready to show that you can afford the rent. If you don’t have a rental history, your landlord may want additional proof that you can pay the rent. Often proof of income will do the trick, so a recent pay stub or bank statement will usually be enough. You may wish to black out account numbers or other sensitive information before handing them over.