What you need to know about renting

Finding a place to call home can be overwhelming. But arming yourself with some basic know-how can make it the process so much easier.

Tags: Goals, Home, Planning
Published: October 04, 2018

Renting can give you the key to your dream home, but navigating the rental process isn't always as simple as it seems. Discover a few essential things to know when renting and set yourself up for success in your new home.

Renter's guide

Want to start the search process on a positive note and avoid feeling overwhelmed every step of the way? Familiarize yourself with a few basic things to know before renting:

1. Make a budget. Before you start searching, do the math and know how much rent you can afford to pay each month.

2. Know your needs. Whether you need to live in a certain school district or you won't be happy without easy access to shopping and entertainment, decide what your new home must have.

3. Prepare your paperwork. Renting a home requires much more than signing a lease. Be prepared to show bank statements, pay stubs, and even personal references to prospective landlords.

Questions to ask when renting property

Before you let yourself fall in love with that adorable apartment, duplex, or single-family home, gather all the information you need to make an informed decision about renting. Ask these important questions before signing on the dotted line:

  • What's the total rental cost? In addition to paying your monthly rent, you may be responsible for covering utilities or amenity fees.
  • Do I owe any deposits? From security deposits to pet fees, many rental communities require tenants to pay up before moving in.
  • How long is the lease? Whether you plan to stay for six months, a year, or longer, make sure the lease agreement aligns with your plans. 

What to know when renting an apartment

Browse any guide to renting an apartment, and you'll quickly learn what to avoid when searching for a new home. First, find out how and when you must pay rent. Setting up automatic bill pay can make life much easier and can prevent a forgotten or late payment. Next, confirm whether the lease cost automatically increases and by how much so you can plan. Finally, make sure you know how much notice you must give before moving out to avoid fees or an automatic lease renewal.

What to know when renting a house

As any home renter's guide will tell you, houses come with a completely different set of concerns from apartments. Before you rent a house, find out if it's part of a homeowner's association (HOA) and whether those rules impact how you maintain the home or the yard. Next, find out what type of maintenance you'll have to do for the home and what the landlord will cover. Finally, confirm whether you need renter's insurance and how much coverage to get.

Whether you're renting a home for the first time or you're making your first big move in years, you'll want to take the time to prepare yourself for each step of the rental process. Keep these renting tips handy and know what to look for when renting as you get ready to move into your ideal home.


If you’re ready to sign that lease and need to start planning your budget for day-to-day expenses, here are some tips to get you on the right track.