6 Tips for First-Time Renters

September 13, 2022

There’s a lot to consider when renting an apartment. Whether it’s your first time renting, or you just want a refresher on how to navigate the process, here are six tips to get you started on your rental journey with confidence.

Woman sitting on floor with coffee surrounded by boxes
  1. Determine What You Can Afford

    It's important to have a solid understanding of your financial situation before you start looking at places to live. The best way to get started is to create a budget you can stick to.

    In your budget, make sure to work in space for:

    • Monthly rent payment.
    • Utilities, parking and other recurring costs.
    • Up-front costs when you sign your lease, such as application fees, first month's rent, security deposit, pet deposit and move-in fee. 

    Factor in the rest of your monthly expenses to the equation to determine how much you can afford to spend on your home.

  2. Get Renters Insurance

    Regardless of whether your apartment requires it or not, it’s a good idea to protect your belongings with renters insurance. It will help you recover from any loss or damage to your personal property while renting a home.

    To obtain your renters insurance, contact a licensed insurance provider.

  3. Check Your Credit Score

    Before you sign a lease, your landlord will want to ensure that you are able to pay your rent each month. One way they will assess this is by checking your credit score. A good credit history is an indication that you reliably pay your bills on time, which puts less risk on the landlord.

    Before applying for an apartment:

  4. Look for Lower Utility Costs

    Renting an energy-efficient apartment can help you save a significant amount of money on your monthly utilities.

    When looking for an energy-efficient rental, consider:

    Landlords who invest in these types of features will typically highlight them to heighten the appeal of the apartment.

  5. Beware of Scams

    Renter fraud happens more than you may think. It’s important to take precautions to make sure the listing you’re interested in is legitimate.

    A few of the precautions you should take include:

    • Seeing the apartment before renting.
    • Not making payments until you’ve signed your lease.
    • Withholding personal information from the property manager until you are ready to rent a specific unit.

    Follow these steps so you don’t fall victim to a rental scam when searching for your first apartment.

  6. Understand Your Lease

    Your lease is a legally binding document, which means you should fully understand its terms and conditions before signing.

    Here is what you should understand about your lease before signing:

    • Whether your lease is short-term or long-term.
    • How you pay rent.
    • What utilities and appliances are included.
    • Who is responsible for maintenance.
    • The property rules.
    • The rules for terminating the lease.

If you have additional questions or need clarification on any topic in your lease, ask the landlord or leasing office before signing. Additionally, there may be room to negotiate certain terms before you sign the lease.

For more tools and resources to help you through the rental process, visit My Home by Freddie Mac®.

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