Just Some Stuff You Need to Know
Category Archives: Find Somewhere to Live
Rental leases are negotiable only before you sign them but you should always try to get the best deal that you can. Ask for a free month (or two!) when negotiating the lease, the landlord may meet you halfway, you will never know unless you ask. Also ask about roommates, pets, and any additional costs that might arise. It’s not necessary to pay a broker or an agency just for the privilege of looking through their files. The same listings are always available somewhere else for no charge. You can check an agency’s reputation by going to the Better Business Bureau’s website. The Board of Realtors (any state that sells property has one) will have records of any complaints filed against realtors and property managers. You can usually check online and it just takes a few minutes. Personal reviews can also be relevant here but are often left by irate former tenants who perhaps are only presenting one side of the situation, so take those with the proverbial grain of salt.
When you visit a potential rental dress appropriately. Make sure you are looking at the actual rental unit, not some ‘model’ unit that is for display only. Be very clear on what the move-in costs are and what your monthly costs will be. Will you have to pay for water, sewer, and trash removal? There is usually a security deposit required along with the first month’s rent, this is often referred to as ‘first and last’ or the first month’s rent plus another as the deposit. Some landlords will require a damage deposit as well, though that is not as common. If you have pets expect to pay a deposit per pet, if they accept pets at all. Several utility companies will ask for a security deposit as well, especially if it is your first time having an account with them. It’s not all bad, and you get a lot of this back – especially if you pay your bills, but it is better to know about all of these costs up front than to be surprised with them when first renting.
If you are subletting or renting a room from someone you know be aware that these costs all still exist, even if you are not required to sign for them so be reasonable about the rent you are willing to pay and understand why it needs to be paid on time.
Having your own place to live is an important part of becoming independent and will give you a sense of accomplishment and maturity. Looking for a place to live can be stressful and expensive though as you search through the endless rental ads and go to numerous appointments with landlords or rental agencies to view housing. Even if you share the rent with a roommate one (or both) of you will have to negotiate the lease and sign the rental contract. The process can be a bit intimidating for the first time renter but by knowing the steps and creating a plan you’ll be able to navigate the whole thing easily.
Knowing what you can afford and what kind of place you want to live in will help you to reduce the amount of time, stress, and expenses you will have to deal with when moving. The real price of renting is found when you add up your own costs per month, plus your rent, and hopefully the cost of the rental insurance you are about to purchase as well. These three things are what it’s truly going to cost you per month to live somewhere. Your costs include travel to and from work and school, food, clothes, and whatever entertainment you can squeeze in. Most experts recommend that you do not spend more than 25-35% of your monthly take-home pay on rent. So figure out your income and that gives you a rough idea of what you can afford to pay for rent. Add to that figure 3-4% or another few hundred for utilities like water, power, cable, internet, phone and whatever else that your basic rent does not cover. Rental insurance is a few hundred per year (this can be paid yearly or monthly) and is well worth the cost. Some apartments will include a few of the utilities in the price of the rent so that may be one thing you look for. Other things may include proximity to public transportation, school, and shopping as well as security, parking, and amenities such as modern appliances or laundry facilities. Another list might come in handy here, what you want vs. what you can reasonably afford.