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Check out our checklist for 1st time renters

How Can First Time Renters Be Safe and Save?

Updated on December 8, 2022

 Personal Finance

Young adults are often seen with energy and enthusiasm while moving out on their own. If you are a first time renter or renting with bad credit, you must be really thrilled to enjoy the fruits of your labor for the first time in life. We won’t be surprised if you say you are planning to rent a house rather than buying one in the city. Buying a home right out of college or right after moving out of your parent's place is unreasonable for most people, and you have decided to go with the much cheaper option when you move out and start living on your own.

However, making any big life-changing decision requires you to do plenty of research and perform numerous checks before you finally move into the house or apartment. You won't be able to sit in one corner of the world and find that perfect place to live. First-time renters have done it and ended up with worse problems than tiny rooms and annoying neighbors. Renting may be one of the most significant financial steps you've taken, so naturally, you want to do it right. If you're renting for the first time with no credit, you may have to get a cosigner. A cosigner is someone else who will also be responsible if you are unable to pay your rent on time, this is usually done by your parents; however, if you are unable to get a cosigner, there are also some other options available to you.

Let's not talk about the countless problems that other people may have encountered as first-time renters, but instead take preventative steps so that you never have to experience these problems first hand in the future. For this reason, here is a first apartment checklist for new renters. You can keep it handy when you are ready to go house hunting. We hope you find your new fortress of privacy and independence with this first-time renter's guide. We have tried to present them in the most appropriate chronological order as we could.

Check #1: Be Budget Conscious

Rent is going to be one of your most significant monthly expense from now on. It can either make or break the comfortability of your lifestyle. This makes it essential for you to identify how much you can afford to pay each month so that you have enough cash left to spend on food, fun, and unexpected expenses. Though you have the option to get emergency loans for rent, it's better to use them occasionally. Most experts say that to be on a safer side, your rent should be not more than 30% of your take-home pay. If you get the house that perfectly fits in your budget, don't forget to ask for a written transcript from your landlord about what expenses are covered and what is not.

Check #2: Get Your Needs Met First

Before dreaming about everything you want in your first rental home, it is essential to determine what you need. Trust us, your home search could be a great experience if you separate the things you truly need from the amenities you’d love to have but can live without. For instance, if you have no plans of buying a new vehicle shortly, it is good to find an apartment close to public transit or your office as you need to be able to get transportation to and from work or be close enough to walk or ride a bike. It is also essential to make sure you are close enough to a store to do your shopping. On the other hand, amenities like a gym, pool or movie theater on the premises could make your rent more expensive and are things you can live without.

Check #3: Don’t Believe What You See Online

Visiting your would-be apartment in-person can help you get more familiar with the neighborhood, you could ask essential questions upfront and also check whether your bed will fit in the room. Yes, you read it right. Many tenants often get carried away by the aesthetic of the home and forget to measure dimensions of places in the house to make sure their furniture will fit. You can surely get some quick funds to buy new furniture, but it is always wise to get spacious rooms that are the right size for your existing furniture to save money and not have to buy new ones. Also, make sure that all of the appliances are working correctly before your move into your new den as you'll want to make sure the landlord gets those fixed. Also remember that whenever things break down in the apartment or house, it may be covered by your landlord in the contract, so there is no need for you to pay someone to come and fix it.

Check #4: Make Way for Deposits

Being a first-time renter, you might not know that having just enough funds to pay your first rent is not all. To secure the apartment, you will need to pay the security deposit as well. They are often equal to your one month’s rent, while it isn't usually recommended you get a security deposit loan that is an option. However, security deposits are way better than spending on substantial down payment when you purchase a house, you need to be prepared for it. An application fee is typically required which can range between $25 and 100 and if you’re bringing your pet along, a pet fee/deposit is generally due before move-in. To avoid unpleasant surprises, read the lease and look for deposits or unexpected fees before signing it. And remember if you don't cause any problems or break anything in while you are renting, you can get the security deposit back after you move out. This brings us to the 5th checkpoint.

Check #5: Pour over the Lease Agreement

When you have the lease agreement in your hand, go over it carefully and make sure that everything you thought would be on there is. You should never feel rushed into signing a lease even if the house looks like the one in your dreams. Read the contract thoroughly and don’t hesitate in asking questions when you see something that concerns you. Be sure that what you and the landlord agreed on verbally is written verbatim in the lease agreement. For example, if your landlord ever mentioned that it’s acceptable to have a dog and no additional fees will be charged, make sure the lease agreement states it word for word. This can save you from making unexpected payments that your budget may not permit.

Check #6: Make Minimum Use of Credit Cards

Talking about payments reminds us of your Credit Card usage. Don’t be in a hurry to establish credit when your first paycheck is still due. Having a few credit cards and paying off a large sum of debt in a reasonable amount of time can definitely help strengthen your credit score. However, we would suggest you be Scrooge-like while using a credit card. Since it is easy to get funds even with no credit, avoid carrying over balances month-to-month. You may not realize how quickly your debts could start accumulating interest and before you know it you could be in financial trouble with those debts. Therefore, use credit cards only in case of emergencies whether you are a first time or a long time renter, or at least try and keep your credit card balances low and make sure you pay them off each month to avoid having to pay any interest on them.

Check #7: Get Renters Insurance

It probably sounds like yet another expense, but renters insurance really is necessary- almost as essential as your own home insurance. While your landlord gets his house covered against any structural damage, you can get insurance to cover the probable costs to your possessions too. Still on the fence about it? You probably plan to buy new furniture for your rental as you are moving out of your house for the first time. If God forbid, there’s a break-in inside your apartment, or your furniture gets damaged due to any unpleasant occurrence. It is always better to get coverage when all your renter's insurance typically costs you is $10-20 a month. For more information on why you should get renters insurance see:

Check #8: Plan Your Exit Strategy in Advance

You will be excited about your first time as a renter, but you should be thinking about moving out before moving in. It might sound like a drag, but if you are only going to be living here for a year or two, you have to prepare for your eventual move out as well. This is because, when you decide to move out, your landlord and leasing companies know that the probability of you ever coming back is close to zero. They may intend to deceive you and try to take as much as possible from your security deposit. To avoid such situations, get some proof in the form of photographs of the place and the copy of all the documents that you sign. You'll also want to make sure that all of the things that are already damaged before you moved in have been noted in your renter's agreement before you move in. Otherwise, you could be charged for damages that you didn't cause.

All in all, if you wish to make renting a pleasant experience with the right landlord and neighborhood, it's safe to stick to this checklist and avoid any rookie errors. For all the other goof-ups as a first-time renter that could put you in need of emergency loans for rent, you can rest easy knowing that CASH 1 has you covered.