You’ve got the job, you’ve got the cash and you’ve got the desire to live on your own. Congratulations, you’re about to experience the joys of freedom and independence. Keep in mind however, along with liberation comes liability. Among the six things every first time renter should know, this is a very significant point. If you want to get off to a good start, consider these other five points.


Your Budget Rules

Get a place you can comfortably afford. Your income should be at least 2.5 times the rental rate. However, keep in mind you’ll also have food, phone, internet, electricity, clothing, transportation and entertainment expenses. Plus, you really should be saving for a rainy day. You’ll also need a security deposit. Some landlords require payment of the first and last month’s rent in advance too. When you’re looking for your first place, keep all of these factors in mind. If you’re unsure of the landlord’s policies regarding deposits and upfront costs, always ask before you sign the lease.


Accountability Is An Issue

You’re renting your first place, so you’ll have no rental history a landlord can consider. Some are willing to overlook this if you can provide proof of employment for at least a year and your pay stubs show you can comfortably afford the rent. Ideally, you’ll also have a bank account with a balance capable of covering at least three months of payments. If you’re lacking these attributes, you might get someone who has them to agree to co-sign to assure the landlord they’ll be covered if your situation goes sideways. One more thing, honesty is always the best policy. Don’t lie on your application—or to your landlord. If you ever get caught, you can be evicted.

Related: Which Amenities Matter Most for Rental Properties?

Is The Place Really Right For You?

When you’re viewing apartments make sure the layout and amenities are conducive to your lifestyle. If you have trouble with stairs, concentrate on flats rather than two-story places. If you’re disabled, make sure the features you need to live with your disability are either already installed, or the landlord is willing to install them to accommodate you. And, check to see if your furniture will fit. Many first-time renters overlook this until they’re trying to convince a huge couch to go through a small door. Test all of the appliances to make sure they work — ditto the sinks, toilets, tubs and showers. Are there enough closets? Are there any signs of rodent or insect infestations?


The Lease Matters

Read the lease carefully before you sign. If you have a pet, make sure it is welcomed. If you’re a smoker, be certain smoking is permitted. If you’re allergic to either of the above, verify the place prohibits them. If you’re going to need a roommate to swing the rent, get them included on the lease, so you don’t wind up on the hook for anything they do—or don’t do.


Trust — But Verify

Along with your copy of the lease, you should get a move-in check sheet. Examine all of the items it covers to ensure they are in good condition. Damage you overlook could be deducted from your security deposit when you move out. Along the same lines, whenever anything isn’t working properly, inform the landlord right away in writing.

Along with the freedom of living on your own comes the responsibility of making your way in the world. These six things every first time renter should know will help you make your first steps solid ones.

Found this useful? Subscribe to our real estate blog for free weekly renter articles!

New Call-to-action