Moving Into Your First Rental Home? What You Need to Know

Moving Into Your First Rental Home? What You Need to Know

You’ve found the perfect home to rent. Congratulations! But before you sign your lease, there are some things you need to know that you may not have thought of before. Buckle up, because it's time to do some adulting!

Ask Questions
There are some basic questions you need to ask your landlord.
What’s the rent? When is the rent due? Is there a grace period? How is payment accepted?
These may seem obvious, but what if the rent's going to be due on the 1st of the month, but you don’t get paid until the 5th? You’ll want to change that on the lease. 
When can rent increases happen and how much will they be?

Some cities or states have rent limits—for instance, they may only be able to increase rent by 5% a year. Others have no rent limits at all, meaning the landlord might decide to double your rent after your lease runs out. Don’t make any assumptions. Look up what the laws are where you live.

Read the Lease
You’ll want to go over the lease before you sign to make sure you know what will happen in these different situations. Tenant/landlord rights vary by state.
Are you allowed guests and how long are they allowed to stay? Having your parents over for a few days probably isn’t going to be a problem. But if your roommate’s boyfriend spends
Can you sublet? Sometimes people want to use their place as an AirBnB while they’re gone for short periods. Others may decide they have to move out and sublet instead of breaking the lease.
Can you break the lease? Under what conditions may you break the lease? And what will you have to pay?
What will happen if the landlord wants to sell it? Most of the time, the landlord will not be able to make you move out before the end of your lease if they decide to sell a property.

Deposits should be spelled out in your lease, including how long it will take and the procedure for getting it back after you move out. A deposit could be as high as 3X your month’s rent, depending on the state and whether it’s furnished. Usually it’s 2X the month’s rent, also called first and last month’s rent. If this amount of money is too high for you and you seem like a good renter, your landlord may agree to just take last month’s rent.

Pet Deposits
In the lease it should say whether or not pets are allowed. If they are, then there may be a pet deposit.

Even if they are not allowed, you can still ask the landlord if you are allowed an exception—many times they might put that into the rental agreement to discourage irresponsible pet owners.

When You’re Ready to Move
Call your utility companies and cable companies and arrange to have that switched over-- they may be booked up in advance.

Find a moving company. Many people depend on the kindness of friends and family to help them move, but there are really good reasons to use a moving company.

They can provide you with:
Time-saving packing
Flexibility. If your plans change and there’s a gap between housing, they can get you a storage facility.
Care of items. Big furniture pieces are wrapped in heavy cloth and plastic so your floors and walls won’t get damaged. Fragile items are efficiently wrapped and packed.
Professional insurance. If something breaks, it will be covered.
The correct equipment. If you rent a truck, you still won’t have the kinds of dollies and hoisting straps you need to make the move safely and efficiently. Moving heavy furniture is very hard work, and you don’t want your family and friends getting hurt—which may then mean a claim against your insurance.

Take Photos
Once you get your keys, the first thing you want to do is walk through the house and check on the condition of everything using a list.

In addition, take photos of:
The outside.
Any wall damage or nail holes.
The flooring.
The windows: open, closed, and with blinds up and down.
Appliances, particularly the fridge and oven. Make sure to open the doors and take pictures inside, too.
The basement and/or attic.

Store these photos in someplace readily accessible, like cloud storage.

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your rights as a tenant, the more confident you'll feel about taking on this new role. 

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