The American dream has become the American nightmare for millions of people who have soured on the idea of home ownership. Unless you voluntarily relinquished your home you’re not in any position to buy one right now which means you’ll be renting a place instead.
If you lived in a house previously you may prefer to rent a home, deciding that the confines of an apartment are, well, much too confining for your needs. One advantage in renting is that availability in your area may be quite good, particularly when it comes to a house versus an apartment.
6 Steps to Home Tenancy
Are you ready to start looking for a home to rent? Let’s take a look at some things you should keep in mind as you search, compare and decide to rent a home:
1. Credit Prep — Know this: prospective landlords will run a credit check on you to determine if you are the kind of tenant they want to have. This can be a big problem for you if you lost your home to foreclosure or have some other credit incident that is working against you. In any case, obtain your credit report and credit score to know where you stand. Be prepared to explain to the landlord your situation — she may be sympathetic to your plight.
2. Personal Affordability — How much can you afford in rent? Figuring an amount up to one-third of your monthly take home salary is reasonable with perhaps up to 40 percent covering your rent, all utilities and rental insurance. Determine what you can afford and only look at homes within a certain price range.
3. Ask Around — You can find homes in newspapers, on Craigslist, through realtors and elsewhere, but you may find that the home you want is owned by a friend, family member, business associate or someone who knows someone. You’ll pay a fee equal to at least one month’s rent to the agent or broker, but may be able to escape a fee completely if you rent direct.
4. Inspect Closely — Tenants should look at a home nearly as closely as someone who is buying a home. No, you don’t need to hire an inspector, but you should examine the home to make sure that it is well kept with no serious issues present. An old roof and gutters aren’t your responsibility, but if water seeps into the home, your personal goods can get damaged or destroyed. Look inside, outside and all around the home. Drive around the neighborhood too — avoid areas where decay is obvious. Contact the police department to discover how that area rates in criminal activity.
5. Negotiate Earnestly — That 3 bedroom, 2 bath home may rent for $1800 in one town or neighborhood, but go for $1200 nearby. Find out what the going rate is for similar homes in your area to show the landlord if her rate is too high. She may agree to your lower rate if you have good credit, a decent paying job and stability.
6. Sign Smartly — Examine your lease closely to determine if the terms are right for you. That lease should list your monthly rent, due date, deposit money, assignment, alterations, utilities, maintenance and repairs, animals and more. You may be able strike a deal with your landlord for reduced rent if you promise to take care of the home by cutting the grass, painting the exterior and more. Get it all in writing and make sure that landlord and tenant are on the same page. Consider having your lease agreement reviewed by a landlord before signing it.
Good landlords want model tenants just as a home seller wants a buyer who is able to afford their home. Some people always prefer to rent which, if that is you, could make for the ideal living arrangement for your family.
See Also — Lease to Own: Your Path to Home Ownership
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