What To Know Before Signing Your First Lease

There’s nothing more exciting than getting the keys to your first apartment. But before you do, there’s a few things to be aware of prior to signing the lease.  

Can you afford it? 

This may seem obvious, but many people often overestimate how much they’re able to afford, especially when a shiny new home is staring them in the face. A good rule of thumb for determining how much you’re comfortably able to afford is to budget no more than 30-percent of your monthly gross income on rent. 

You may need a cosigner 

If you’ve never rented before, don’t have much credit established, or don’t quite have the income required to rent, you may need a cosigner. A cosigner is someone who doesn’t live with you but is responsible for paying your rent in the event you’re unable to do so. If you need a cosigner, the community manager will let you know during the application process. 

Factor in utilities 

Utilities – like water, gas and electric – can add up each month and are important to factor into your monthly budget. Some communities may include a couple utilities in their monthly rent rate. Make sure to find this out so you’ll know how much to budget and which utilities you’ll be responsible for setting up.  

Get renter’s insurance 

Renter’s insurance is great to have in the event something happens to your apartment, like a fire or water damage. While the property’s insurance will cover the structure and building, renter’s insurance will cover your personal belongings inside and even any additional living expenses incurred in the event your home is ruined. Typically, renter’s insurance is inexpensive and well-worth it should you need it.  

Read the lease 

Before signing the lease, make sure to read every word of it so you don’t unknowingly violate it. This is where you’ll find information on everything from late fees and  whether you can paint your walls, to how much notice you must give before moving out, and beyond. Not sure about something? Ask! 

Always do a walk-through 

Do a thorough walk-through of your apartment with your landlord or community manager upon move-in. Document and take note of anything that’s broken, scratched, or needs fixing. You’ll want to make sure you have proof these items existed before you lived there, so you won’t be responsible for them when moving out.