Being a renter for the first time can be overwhelming. There are a lot of things you have to know to rent a new place. You have to think about your credit score, loans, and credit card debt. Many things that you have never had to deal with will come up. So, here are ten things that should know about renting for the first time.
Credit Scores Matter
Renting an apartment, or house, for the first time can be exciting. But, if you have a low credit score, you may not be able to get the place you want. Lower scores can put your application at the bottom of the pile, especially at places that have multiple applicants that you are up against. A bed credit score can be the difference between that spacious apartment with lots of amenities, and the older building with the door that sticks. So, check on your credit score often, and try to make changes that will raise your score so you can get the place you want.
Having renters insurance is a great way to cover any damages that may occur while you are renting. But, this isn’t free, and many places require that you have it. So, when you are balancing your checkbook, make sure that you factor in the cost of renters insurance so you know what you can afford after that is covered.
Not every place that you apply for will require a cover letter, but it is always a good idea to tell the landlord more about you and why you want the apartment. Look up some sample ones online to give yourself a good idea of what it looks likes, and what information you should include. Even if the place doesn’t require it, it is still a good idea to send one with your application.
You will have to give your most recent bank statement when applying for a new place so they can see that you have steady money coming in. This is how they will know if you can cover the cost of rent and utilities. So, make sure that you have that ready to send. Also, for those who think that they can pad their resume with money that they don’t have, this will show that you are lying. So, be truthful, most people will work with you if they know the situation so don’t try to hide anything from the landlord.
Like bank statements, pay stubs will always be asked for to ensure that you have a job and monthly income. Nowadays, most things are online, so you can easily access and send this with an application. But, get ahead of the game and have it ready for when you are looking for a place to rent. For students that don’t have a job, financial add statements will work just as well. This shows that you have grant and scholarship money coming in that can cover the rent.
When renting, the landlord will want to talk to two or three references to see if you are responsible. Usually, if you have rented before, this would be your former landlords. But, for first-time renters, this can be personal or professional references instead. So, have a few people willing to answer the call and talk you up a bit available so you can put their names down on the application.
One thing that is important when renting, is your monthly income. This is something that the landlord will look at to determine if you can afford to pay the rent. Typically, if your income is not around three times the rent, they will not consider you. The rule is that you try to spend about 35% of your income on housing, so keep that in mind when applying for apartments.
What Can You Afford
Like I said before, you want to spend about 35% of your income on housing. So, if you make around 3,500 a month, you want to spend around 1250 a month on rent. Going over that amount could make paying for other things, like car payments or insurance, difficult. And, many places won’t let you move in without making three times the rent in monthly income. So, if you can’t afford a place of your own, find roommates that can help you pay the full rent to keep the costs down.
When you are ready to rent, on top of paying for the application and background checks, you will have to pay a deposit too. Moving into a new place is a big chunk of money, so make sure that you have enough saved up to pay for all the expenses, including deposits. This can be a few hundred or up to the full month’s rent. So, make sure you know what you are getting into.
First and Last Upfront
The cost of rent is definitely not the only thing you will have to pay when you start renting. Deposits will be an expense, but you will also have to fork over first and last months rent upfront. This can be a good amount of money so you will want to save enough to be able to cover the entire cost. If you and a roommate share a $2,100 apartment, then you will have to split $4,200 upfront for first and last. That can be a make or break decision, if you can’t pay that, you may not be able to get the place. So, start saving early.