Renting is a great option for those who want to live on their own but don’t have enough money saved to put a downpayment down on a house. It’s also great for those who frequently travel and those who don’t want to own a house and prefer the ability to rent without having to deal with all of the hassles that come with home ownership. While renting is a great option, there are a few things everyone should know before doing so.
1. Tenant Screening
Your potential landlord will use the best tenant screening services at his or her disposal. This means that all of the information you put on your application will be verified, which is why you must tell the truth. While your income is typically verified by you showing your potential landlord pay stubs, they may also pick up the phone and call your employer to further verify your employment and income. They will also look into your previous rental history, including whether or not you’ve been evicted before, and run a criminal background check on you.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to your application to rent. It’s much easier to get an apartment with information that’s true than to lie by stating a higher income than you earn and getting caught. If you’re caught lying on your application, you run the risk of not being accepted as a renter. If you are accepted, and your landlord finds out you lied on your application, you can still be evicted even months after your move.
If you have a difficult time getting pay stubs because you’re self-employed or make money remotely, you’ll need to find a way to verify your income. Many landlords will accept bank statements. If not, you may have the option to add a consigner, which can be one of your parents. Landlords allow this because it gives you the opportunity to rent while making someone liable if you decided to stop paying your rent suddenly.
2. Your Income Matters
While your income will be verified, your income matters more than just being a question on the rental application. Much like lenders, landlords want to make sure you’re able to pay your rent, which is why they typically like to see an income of at least three times the amount of rent. That means that if your rent would be $1,000/month, they’d like your income to be at least $36,000/year. They use this simple number as a way to ensure that you’ll have the ability to pay.
It’s important that before you spend money on an application fee that you take a look at your finances to ensure that you’ll be able to afford a rental. Using a tax calculator, you can calculate how much you really bring home after taxes, then subtract your debts to make sure you have enough left over to pay for rent.
Most landlords assume that their renters have other debts like student loans and car notes as well, so the three-times rule allows them to make sure that no matter what your other financial obligations are, you’ll be able to afford rent.
3. Get Insurance
Renter’s insurance is vital because you never know what could happen. A pipe could burst, causing massive flooding and mold growth, or a fire could leave you without a place to live. Renter’s insurance covers you in case of flooding, fires, natural disasters, and crime, so that should anything happen to your apartment, you can afford to rent a hotel for a few nights while it’s being fixed. Similarly, if your apartment or rental home is broken into, you can insure specific items that will be covered under your policy so that they can be replaced.
This remains one of the important things to know before renting. Without insurance, you’ll be forced to spend money out of your own pocket for expenses like putting yourself up in a hotel while your landlord fixes your apartment if there was a flood. You’ll also be forced to replace your own stolen items should you get robbed. Remember, even though you are renting, your landlord is not liable for everything, so it’s essential to get yourself covered.
4. You Can’t Always Paint
When you move into a new place, it can be difficult to hold back your interior design desires. However, make sure that you’re allowed to design the way you’d like. Some leases don’t let you paint the walls or hammer nails into the wall to display your art. Hence this is another of the few important things to know before renting.
5. Always Compare
Before choosing the best apartment for you, make sure to compare the features and amenities of the rentals in your area. This can help you determine which rental is right for you. For example, you may not have a dog now but plan on getting one. For something like this, you’d need to look into which rentals allow you to have a dog and what fees are associated with having pets. Other things you’ll want to compare are square footage, price, and amenities.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the realities of becoming a renter and set yourself up for the best possible outcome.