Here’s what you should know!

The time has come to plan on moving away from your parent’s house—or your college dorm—and into your own digs! You have a few big choices (and big expenses) coming up. Knowing what to expect and how to negotiate will make everything run smoother so you can get down to the fun stuff, like decorating and deciding how you want to live now that you’re finally out on your own. Whew!

How much can you afford? Think long term….think budget…..and then begin your search. Also keep in mind when you sign a lease you will have two waves of expenses to pay—upfront fees and monthly living costs. A good rule of thumb is that your monthly income should be at least 3x the monthly rent amount of the property. Every rental application that you submit  typically requires a fee. This can be anywhere from $30-$150. They will do a background, income and credit check. Then there is the security deposit which will be required once you have been approved. A security deposit is like insurance for the landlord. If you leave still owing rent or with damage to the place, the landlord can deduct the costs from your security deposit. If you don’t, you will get the money back when you move out.Make sure that you take photos and document the condition of the property on move in. Many owners and property managers have an actual “move-in/move-out” inspection sheet. You may pay up to a full month’s rent for a security deposit.

The lease…..before you sign the lease, read it though and maybe have someone experienced with leases or contracts read it through as well. Ask questions and also learn the landlord and tenant laws in your state. These laws protect you as a renter and you should know them!

If you are planning on having roommates, make sure that every roommate’s name is on the lease.Also, set aside time to discuss living arrangements before you move in. Make sure you know how much everyone will pay, who will buy furniture and household items like dishes, rugs and trashcans, and how you will divide up cleaning and other chores. Having a plan ahead of time will make things run smoother once you move in.

Congratulations on becoming a tenant and having your OWN home!