Your First-Time Renter Cheat Sheet


Future Renter - Illustration

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Hey there, future first-time renter! We understand that stepping into the world of independent living can feel like stepping onto a roller coaster ride – it’s thrilling, it’s exciting, but let’s be honest, it can be a tad nerve-racking too. But we all gotta start somewhere, right? You’ve got a friendly guide here (that’s us!) to hold your hand as you navigate this major milestone in your life.

Navigating Your First Rental: Key Questions Answered

Is it hard to get your first apartment? How do I even go about moving into an apartment for the first time? What am I supposed to expect when I’m getting my first apartment? And most importantly, how do you rent an apartment? These are questions that are likely popping up in your mind. Let’s tackle these one by one, shall we?

Maybe you’re a student looking for your first apartment? Not sure where to start as a student? Wondering how to navigate the rental process and what to expect? Find answers to these questions and more in the blog on Things to Look for When Choosing Student Housing.

Your First-Time Renter Cheatsheet

  • Have These Documents Ready
  • Calculating Your Rent Budget
  • Accounting for All Expenses
  • Cutting Costs: Be a Smart Cookie
  • Deciding on Non-Negotiables
  • Questions, Questions, Questions
  • Understand the Lease Terms
  • Reading the Fine Print
  • Getting Your Finances Ship-Shape
  • Starting Your Renter’s Journey: The Moving Day
  • Settling In: Making The Space Your Own
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Have These Documents Ready for Your Application:

  • Identification: A government-issued ID (driver’s license or passport).
  • Proof of income: Pay stubs, tax returns, or a letter from your employer.
  • Rental application: Usually asking for your employment details, rental history, and credit score.
  • Credit report: Landlords might want to do a quick check to ensure you’re good with money.
  • Reference letters: Think of these as character certificates from previous landlords or employers.
  • Security deposit: Typically, this is the same as one month’s rent. It’s your landlord’s insurance against any damage or unpaid rent.
  • Renters insurance: Some landlords require this to safeguard your personal belongings against unfortunate events like theft, damage, or other losses.

Calculating Your Rent Budget

Think of this as a shopping trip. You wouldn’t step into a mall without knowing your budget, would you? Similarly, knowing how much rent you can afford is the first step. While traditionally, the magic number has been 30% of your net income, the modern-day mantra is the 50/30/20 rule. Spend 50% of your after-tax income on essentials (that includes your rent and utilities like electricity, water, and WiFi), 30% on those things that make life enjoyable, and put away 20% in your piggy bank.

Accounting for All Expenses:

Rent might seem like the big bad wolf, but remember, it’s just one part of the story. Other characters include utilities, the initial payments like the first month’s rent and security deposit, moving costs, and setting up your new crib.

Cutting Costs: Be a Smart Cookie!

Yes, there are ways to make your money stretch further! For instance, sharing an apartment with a roommate (or two) can cut your expenses in half. Or you could pick a location that allows you to walk to work or social events, saving you those hefty commuting costs.

Deciding on Non-Negotiables:

Apartment hunting can seem to take forever because it can be difficult to find one place that checks all your boxes. Find your closest match by deciding what matters most to you: do you need in-unit laundry? Do you want to live alone? Do you need a pet-friendly building? Make a list of your non-negotiable needs and wants to know where you’re flexible and where you’re not.

Questions, Questions, Questions:

When you visit an apartment, it’s your chance to play detective. How quick are they with repairs? Any history of pesky pests? Any noisy construction coming up? Roaches? By asking these questions upfront, you’ll be a well-informed and stress-free renter.

Understand the Lease Terms

A lease is a big commitment, so it’s important to understand all its components and terminology before signing, especially if any are at odds with your list of deal-breakers. Lease terms also cover what the landlord will permit you to do as a tenant. For example, what could prevent you from getting your security deposit back, the penalties for ending your lease early, whether or not you would be able to sublet.

Reading the Fine Print

Again, lease agreements can seem as daunting as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it’s crucial to understand all the terms, including the rules and consequences of breaking the lease early.

Getting Your Finances Ship-Shape

Remember, landlords want to sleep easy knowing they’ll get their rent on time. You’ll likely need to provide proof of income, a good credit history, or even get a guarantor (someone who’ll promise to pay your rent if you can’t).

Essential Guide to Renting for the First Time - Illustration

Starting Your Renter’s Journey: The Moving Day

When the day comes to move into your new place, you might feel a mixture of excitement and stress. A well-organized moving day can make the transition into your new space much more comfortable. Start packing well in advance, labeling each box with its contents and the room it belongs in. If you’re moving large furniture, measure the doors and hallways to make sure everything fits.

But if you’re not, you can save money with rental furniture. Plus, you won’t have to go through the hassle of bringing it into the building yourself.

Also, remember that you’ll need some essentials as soon as you move in. Pack a ‘first-night’ box with items like toiletries, a change of clothes, bed sheets, basic kitchen supplies, and anything else you’ll need immediately. You wouldn’t want to be rummaging through boxes for a toothbrush after a long day of moving!

Settling In: Making The Space Your Own

Once the chaos of moving subsides, you’ll find yourself with a blank canvas that’s waiting for your personal touch. Whether it’s hanging your favorite art, adding cozy throws and cushions, setting up an indoor garden, or organizing your kitchen just the way you like it – this is where you can let your personality shine.

Renting for the first time is a significant milestone – it’s not just about having a place to stay, it’s about creating a space that feels like home. And while it might be a rollercoaster of a journey with paperwork, budgets, and moving boxes, remember that at the end of the ride, you’ll have a space to call your very own. So cheers to this new chapter, first-time renter! You’ve got this!

Handy Tips for First-Time Renters

Save, Save, Save: Begin saving early for initial expenses such as the first and last month’s rent, security deposit, moving costs, and utility connection fees. Having an emergency fund is also a smart move.

Know Your Credit Score: Like checking your weight before a big race, knowing your credit score before apartment hunting is key. A low score might require you to find a co-signer.

Define Your Ideal Apartment: Just like you’d have a wishlist for your dream vacation, have one for your apartment search too. Location, furnishing, pet policy, and safety of the neighborhood can all be part of this list.

Roommate or No Roommate: Having roommates can be a lifesaver when it comes to splitting rent and utility costs.

Read Your Lease and Get Set to Move: Before signing the lease, make sure you’re okay with all the terms.

Safety: When you’re moving to a new place, your safety should be a top priority. Ensure the apartment has adequate security measures, functional smoke detectors, and clear fire exit paths. If possible, chat with your potential neighbors to gauge the safety of the neighborhood and the building. Remember, a safe living environment contributes significantly to your peace of mind.

Renting for the first time can feel like a wild ride, this is why June Homes is here! Learn how June Homes operates and you’ll be well-equipped to handle the journey. So put on your adventure hat, first-time renter, and prepare for the exciting world of independent living! Here’s to new beginnings!

How to Get Approved as a First-Time Renter?

Prepare Documentation: Have proof of income, identification, and references ready.
Build a Good Credit Score: If you have credit, ensure it’s in good standing. Consider a co-signer if needed.
Demonstrate Stable Income: Show that you have a stable job or reliable income source to cover rent.
Be Professional: Make a good impression during viewings and communication with landlords or agents.

Which Renters Insurance Is Right for Me as a First-Time Renter?

Assess Your Needs: Consider the value of your possessions and what it would cost to replace them.
Understand Coverage Types: Look into different policies, like personal property, liability, and additional living expenses coverage.
Compare Quotes: Get quotes from multiple insurance companies to compare rates and coverages.
Check Reviews: Look for customer feedback on claims process and customer service.

What Do I Need as a First-Time Renter?

Important Documents: Identification, proof of income, previous rental history (if applicable), and references.
Initial Costs: Be prepared for first and last month’s rent, security deposit, and application fees.
Household Essentials: Furniture, kitchen supplies, bedding, and personal items to make the place livable.
Renters Insurance: To protect your belongings and cover liability.

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