6 Tips for First-Time Renters
Are you ready to spread your wings for the first time? Or are you just relocating for a new career opportunity? Whatever your reason is, we'd like to welcome you to the world of renting. Here are six tips to help with your renting experience:
- Consider your budget.
- Evaluate the neighborhood.
- Pick the place that's right for you and recheck your budget.
- Read through your lease carefully.
- Insure your personal belongings.
- Make it your own!
Consider Your Budget
Start by estimating your monthly income, after taxes. Take a look at all of your monthly expenses. Review how much you spend by category, such as food, gas, utilities, cable, internet, cell phone, clothes, insurance, loans, credit card payments, gym membership fees, emergency funds, etc. Decide what your priorities are for each category.
After you take your projected monthly income and subtract your expenses, your remaining balance is what you can put towards rent. If it's not enough money for the type of place you want, readjust your expenses where you can. Keep in mind, extra money at the end of each month can help offset unplanned expenses.
Evaluate the Neighborhood
Now that you know your budget, do some research, and keep your eye out for a bargain. However, just because it's a bargain rental doesn't mean it is a safe place to live. Check out the neighborhood first. Contact local law enforcement and ask them how often they are called to the surrounding area and ask friends or relatives who live in the area. Pay attention to security features when you visit, including the windows, door locks, and outdoor lighting.
Pick the Place That's Right for You and Recheck Your Budget
When you finally find a place you love, double check your budget to be sure it will work for you. While you may be in love with its spacious rooms, open floor plan and backyard patio, can you truly afford it? This is also a good time to ask the landlord about any application, deposit, or other fees that are not included in your rent. If utilities are not covered, ask who the current providers are and give them a call. They will usually give you the average cost and tell you the highest and lowest months.
Read Through Your Lease Carefully
Finally, you are ready to sign a lease. Read the contract carefully and ask for a copy. If you do pay any deposits, make sure your landlord gives you details on how you can get these back when your move out, such as a cleaning checklist.
Insure Your Personal Belongings
Some landlords require you to purchase renters insurance. Whether or not it's required, give it some serious consideration. Your landlord likely has insurance on the building; however, this will not cover your personal items like clothes, electronics, furniture, jewelry, and the great decorative items you're planning to buy. Our renters policy helps protect your prized possessions if they are stolen or damaged by a fire.
In addition, your landlord's insurance policy will not cover your liability risks. For example, if a friend visits your place, trips over the couch and breaks an arm, or your normally sweet natured pup bites the child next door, you could be held responsible. Our renters policy can help protect you from these types of liability risks. The protection for your personal items and your liability risk is affordable because our policy can run as low as $10 per month.
Make it Your Own!
As soon as you move in, send a list of any items the landlord need to fix and keep a copy for your files. As you purchase new things to fill your home, make sure you re-evaluate how much your stuff is worth. Take photos, keep receipts and make a list of all your belongings, just in case the worst should happen. And if you decide to move from renting to buying a home, remember Shelter can help with your future insurance needs as well.
For more information about our coverage options, contact your local Shelter agent.