For tenants, knowing where to begin in the house hunt can be a bit overwhelming. So whether it’s your first time renting or it’s time to start looking for someplace new, we’re here to help. Here are a few of the top renting tips for tenants.
Whether you are looking to rent a house or an apartment, you’ll want to follow these helpful tips as a tenant to start you off on the right foot:
Even before you begin your house or apartment hunt, you’ll want to have a good idea of what you are looking for in a rental property. Then, once you have an idea, follow these renting tips to keep you on track.
Along with determining what the expectations of your rental will be, you should start forming a budget in your head. That way, once you have an idea of what you are looking for, you can begin your search and see if that is in line with your budget. After conducting some initial research, you might find that you need to have some wiggle room in terms of your amenities or budget to be determined by you.
Don’t forget that when you first move into a rental, there tend to be additional costs that you will need to account for. As a general rule of thumb, you should never look at properties with a monthly rent that is more than three times your monthly income. By following this guideline, you can ensure that you have extra breathing room should sudden financial emergencies arise.
Credit scores aren’t everything for being a qualified renter, but having a bad score can make things a bit more difficult for you. If you’re unaware of what your current credit score is, it’s worth looking into as you begin your search.
Thankfully, there are tons of free credit report websites out there that allow you to pull credit checks without impacting your score. Keeping an eye on your credit score will help you see if you can make any quick fixes to improve your score before you start looking for rental properties.
Especially in today’s market, it seems like everywhere is a high-demand market, making finding the perfect rental property for you challenging at times. If you are having a hard time finding rental properties yourself, you might want to consider finding a real estate agent to help you out.
If you’re worried about the costs associated with a real estate agent, don’t worry. Often, agents are paid by landlords, so working with them might not cost you anything at all.
A lease agreement is a legally binding document, so you always want to be sure to read through the terms very carefully before signing. While you might be excited and ready to sign right away, make sure you take the time to understand all of the languages as set forth by the lease agreement.
If you are working with a real estate agent, it might be worth having them read through it to make sure it all sounds fair and standard. Specific clauses you’ll want to look out for include:
Surprises can be costly and emotionally draining as a renter, so to help avoid some of these situations, do your homework before signing into an agreement.
While the primary disputes between tenants and landlords tend to fall over rent or security deposit details, privacy rights are not far behind. Although you are renting from a landlord, that does not give them the right to invade your privacy at any given time of their choosing.
As a renter, it’s essential to learn the details of your privacy rights as set forth by your local laws. For example, there is a specific amount of time or notice that a landlord must give you before entering your rental property. If you are well versed in these protection rights, it will be easier for you to maintain them.
Once you move into your new rental, you’ll want to obtain renter’s insurance right away. Much like homeowner’s insurance, you want to make sure you are protected. You never know what is going to happen, especially in a rental. Rather than react once an unfortunate event has occurred, set yourself up for success by having the necessary protection through renter’s insurance.
Luckily, the cost associated with renter’s insurance tends to be minimal, especially in the grand scheme of things. The insurance that a landlord has on their property may cover some damages but likely will not cover the replacement of any of your items. Renter’s insurance can help in these situations if you lose things due to theft, fire, or even water damage.
Again, make sure you read through the details about the security deposit before signing the lease agreement. Then, when it comes time to move out, you shouldn’t have any questions about how to get your security deposit back in full.
To help protect your security deposit even further, make sure to take part in an initial walkthrough with your landlord as soon as you move in. During this walkthrough, you can take notes of any pre-existing damages via a move-in statement or checklist. That way, when you complete your final walk-through upon move-out, there will be no question of what damages you are responsible for covering.
The process of finding a rental property can be challenging for tenants, but it doesn’t need to be. By following these top renting tips, tenants can make sure they are informed and protected before entering into a legally binding lease agreement.
Matthew is the CEO of Evernest. He is a student of the book Good to Great and is passionate about building the best property management company on the planet (and maybe even the universe if Elon Musk will hurry up). You can usually find Matthew at the baseball field with his son, at a dance recital with his daughter, or at his favorite restaurant with his wife, when he’s not in the office. And if you can’t find him in any of those places, it probably means he’s traveling.