Ah, that sense of freedom when you get your own place. Renting can be a long process but if you have a checklist, it will make things go smoother.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself before signing a lease contract:

  • What part of town is best for me?
    • Commute time vs inner city higher rent
    • What am I close to? Groceries, Entertainment, Restaurants, Schools?
  • How much rent can I afford or will I need a roommate? Your budget should include:
    • Rent
    • Insurance
    • Utilities
    • Personal Expenses: cell phone, memberships, car payments/insurance
  • What is the annual rental increase within the area? Check out your local www.har.com and www.zillow.com listings for average costs.
    • Is the annual increase negotiable?
  • What comes with the complex or home?
    • Washer/Dryer/Appliances
    • Amenities
    • Trash Service
    • Pest Control
    • Parking – Guest and Personal
    • Property and Home Maintenance
    • Security Officer or Surveillance Cameras
    • Referral Bonus
    • Background Checks / Good credit
  • What is the application fee and security/pet deposit?
    • Your credit score has an impact on these fees – the minimum acceptance score is 620, anything lower is considered high risk and applicants are often denied
    • Refer to Understanding Your Credit Score
    • Are any of the fees refundable upon move out?

Find what’s important to you in a rental; this can help minimize the stress when looking. Most people rent short term while saving for a big purchase. But, there are those who would rather rent long term with the guarantee of the apartment or rental home amenities. With this check list and the help of a detailed budget, you can find a great space that meets all of your needs.


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