Set a Budget
When selecting a property, ensuring the ability to comfortably pay rent is important. Cost of rent should range between 33%-40% of the total net household income (after taxes). For example: If you make $2,000/month, your rent should not exceed $666/month. This allows for enough total income to cover other expenses such as: food, car payment, insurance, clothing, entertainment etc.
Finding an affordable property that is located 30 mins or more away from your place of work can add additional costs that need to be factored into your monthly expenses. Such as: Gas, parking, tolls, wear and tear on vehicle. So although the apartment might be a comfortable price point, the additional costs of travel to and from work, may off set any potential savings.
Make sure you are certain of the property before signing a lease.
Once you’ve located a property, it is recommended viewing the property at different times of the day, and different days of the week. During the house search, it can be easy to overlook certain neighborhood or building details. Viewing the property during the day and again during the evening can ensure that you are comfortable with the neighborhood and will ensure that you don’t regret a hasty lease agreement only regret living in the area.
Checking to make sure pets are allowed at a property is vital. Even if you do not currently have a pet, asking if pets are allowed ensures that should your situation change in the future, you are aware of any regulations or deposits needed. Having the conversation at the beginning of the lease will ensure that all parties understand the agreement.
Read the lease
The property manager or owner of the property will review details on a lease agreement with you prior to signing. It is important that you come prepared with any questions you have, as well as take time to read the lease with them. Keep a copy of the lease with other important documents as it may need to be referenced again in the future.
If you see any specific items that you’d like to have addressed prior to moving in, make sure they are noted on the lease agreement and signed/initialed by all parties. Ensuring that you are moving into a property that meets your standards and is “as promised” by the landlord is important and needs to be documented. Otherwise, you may run into issues down the road. If a maintenance issues occurs during your lease, do NOT wait to call. Some issues can be easily fixed, however if left unresolved- some can lead to larger more expensive repairs. Don’t be afraid to call your landlord or maintenance person as soon as you have a need. Make sure to document the request so that all parties are aware in multiple forms of the maintenance need.
Remember, at the end of the day- a landlord is looking for a tenant that is going to be honest and will take care of their property. Making sure that you communicate regularly with your landlord will ensure that when you need something or are potentially going to need to pay rent a day or two late, you have good standing with the owner and are able to treat each other with respect and professionalism
For more information related to these and other topics, be sure to visit our Tenant Resources tools – Tenant Handbook.