Moving into a rental property is an exciting time for college students. The process can be overwhelming and stressful, however. This is why we’ve created this guide for students so they know exactly what to do when it’s time for them to move into a rental property of their own.
Determine What Properties You Can Afford
Your first step in deciding to rent a property is figuring out exactly how much you can afford. A good rule of thumb is that your monthly rent and utilities should not cost more than 30% of your monthly net income (before taxes). You will also need to consider upfront costs, like first and last month’s rent, pet and security deposits and holding fees. It’s also a good idea to develop a budget for recurring costs for the entirety of your lease term. Keeping tabs on costs such as rent, utilities, cable and Internet will help you stay on top of your finances.
Consider the State of the Rental Market
There will be varying levels of vacancies at different times of the year. As you near the beginning of the fall semester, there will be fewer vacancies. At the end of the spring semester, however, there are likely to be significantly more vacancies as well as better deals. Deciding when to move into an apartment will be based on your current living situation, when your classes start and end as well as whether or not you can find a roommate.
Choose Roommates Carefully
Making the decision to live alone or with roommates is a big one. If you choose to live with one or more roommates, paying rent will be less of a financial burden. This is why many college students decide to live with roommates, as their income is limited.
When choosing a roommate, you should take these factors into consideration for prospective roommates.
- Can they afford their share of rent and utilities? – Make sure that your prospective roommates have reliable streams of income or money saved up and budgeted for monthly rent, utilities and other recurring costs.
- Do they have pets? – Knowing beforehand if your roommate has a pet will help you prepare for your future living situation or will have you looking for a different roommate. Decide whether or not you’re okay with having pets in your home. If you will be living somewhere with more than one roommate, make sure everyone is on board with the pet living there.
- Are they willing to sign the lease? – This is an important factor. If a potential roommate is unwilling to sign the lease, find a new roommate. If you are the only one with your name on the lease, you are legally held responsible for rent, utilities, other costs and any damages done to the property. If your roommate is unable to pay their share of monthly costs or damages the property, you will be held responsible if your name is the only one on the lease.
Ask Your Leasing Agent Plenty of Questions
Before signing a lease, you should make sure you know everything you possibly can about the property you’ll be renting. This is a short list of questions you should know the answer to prior to signing a lease:
- What is the total square footage of the property?
- What parking options are available? Do the parking options require an extra fee?
- Is there access to public transportation from the property?
- What utilities are covered by rent? If utilities are not covered by rent, ask about how much utilities cost per month.
- Is there on-site maintenance? What about security and property management?
- Is there a secure area for mail and packages?
- What’s the refund policy for deposits and other upfront costs?
Read Your Lease
Make certain to read your lease very carefully. A lease is a legally binding contract, and it’s often the first contract college students will sign. Knowing all of the clauses and stipulations in your lease ensures your protection and helps you get a better understanding of what your time living in the rental property will be like.
Although the process of applying for and moving into a rental property can be stressful, knowing the necessary information will make moving into your new home a breeze.