Decided to Rent Instead of Buy? Here's What You Need to Know

Renting for the first time? Well, you’re in the right place. The process is never easy – though not as complicated as house-buying – so you need to be prepared every step of the way. 

Certainly many college graduates dream of jumpstarting their careers in major cities. However, this entails living far away from home-sweet-home. Deciding to move out of your parents’ place is undoubtedly the first big step towards autonomy. The next big one is finding the ideal place you can have for yourself and taking on responsibilities independently – the adult way.

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Priorities Must be Clear

What makes a perfect apartment or house?

The price is one big consideration. Distance also matters as commute and gas are quite costly. Everybody wants a comfy place with enough space for all their stuff – way better if there’s even more.

Are you particular with the fixtures that’ll be provided, or would you prefer movable ones? In most cases, the landlord provides them. Your only dilemma is when these turn up to be quite dated. You don’t want cooking to be the last of you, so better double check with the landlord how often these are maintained, fixed or for possible updates.

Utilities Might be on Your Bill

There are pros and cons in including and excluding utility bills on the tenant’s rent. However, most of the time, the utility bills are included in the monthly rent, as it’s the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that payments are made on time.

Furthermore, many states have encountered a lot of problems regarding bill payments. Plenty of measures were done to address these issues, especially on disputes like bill amount disagreements. To avoid this, the tenants are now made to pay for heat, water, gas, electricity and the rest, on top of their monthly housing dues.

Rent fees don’t come cheap, so it pays to be particular with the appliances you’ll bring along and use.

Credit History Is Needed

If this is your first job and you’ve been using your folks’ credit cards, you have nothing to show.

In this scenario, a guarantor is needed. This could be your guardian, parent or relative. They’ll have to sign the contract as co-applicant.

If you’re this person, by now you’ll realize you’ll still need Mom and Dad to help you out, especially when things get tight (like falling short of your rent money).

Payment Capacity Should be Proven

Prepare documents showing your payment capacity, like your salary. Your pay stub can also suffice. A letter from your employer could come as a character reference too, as this often includes feedback on your work ethic. Bank statements can also enforce your salary statement.

There are more documents utilized as proof of income. Your landlord needs to get a hold of these documents to calculate your rent-to-income ratio. This either qualifies or disqualifies you as a renter of his property. Don’t take it against him, though. He only wants to make sure you can manage and have enough left.

Restrictions Are Natural

You can’t always leave a mark on rented spaces. Sure you can decorate or make some minimal refurbishments on the place, but these should be with the landlord’s permission. You don’t want to put your security deposit in danger. In any case, this is always stated in the contract.

The downside is if he doesn’t allow any changes. Then, you have no choice but to put up with it. If you can stand horrible sights – like the kitchen and bathroom tiles – then well and good. If not, better find another place.

Also, there are restrictions on the number of guests allowed, as well as their length of stay in the place. If having roommates lessens your monetary burdens, there’s also a limit as to how many are allowed. Make sure everybody gets to be in and sign the contract, with each one having his own copy.

Pets aren’t always welcome, especially in buildings. However, an increasing number of owners allow animals in the vicinity. It’s best to ask. But make sure you’re able to care for your pet now that it’s only you and your furry friend.

Make sure to get a hold of copies of the homeowners association’s or the building’s rules and regulations. It’s possible that your landlord doesn’t know everything, so just to be safe, secure a copy for yourself. Read them thoroughly and consider those that could affect you.

The Area Must Be Double-Checked

This could be overlooked by many, as they‘re more involved in finding the best apartment.

Being familiar with the area is an advantage. For first timers, ask the landlord and your neighbors about any security or safety concerns in the surrounding. Knowing the ins and outs of the local transport is just as necessary. The parking area should have ample of space for you.

Lease Agreement Must be Read Thoroughly

Bottom line is none other than to read your lease agreement carefully. Secure a copy for yourself too – trust me, you’d need it.  Pay close attention to the terms and conditions regarding your down payment, security deposit and grace period (if there’s any).

The termination date and renewal options must be well understood. Ask questions about possible flexibility should you want to move earlier than expected. Is it possible to sublet another person once you’ve moved out? More often than not, these conditions are stated in the contract.

In addition, see if there’s any requirement for a tenant’s insurance. If you can stash more than a hundred bucks a year (which is quite cheap), then better protect yourself and your property.

Another one to pay attention to is the landlord access policy stipulated in the contract. Normally, the owner would give you a heads up a day or two in advance, that he’ll be checking the house or apartment.                      

These terms and conditions vary from state to state; landlord to landlord. There are owners that are open for negotiations. There are also those who are quite strict. As long as you agree with the lease and are willing to adhere to the terms, you’ll get by just fine.

It’s important to be knowledgeable about renting so you’d know what to ask and expect when meeting the landlord and checking out the place. Renting is never easy or cheap so you need to find the best value for your money as much as possible.


Abigail Sabijon is the head of content of MyFriendFernando. Before stepping into the blogosphere, she was university instructor and language teacher. She’s also been a teaching and leadership trainer. Other than real estate, she also enjoys writing motivational, health and business content.