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9 things to know before renting your first house

9 things to know before renting your first house

We’ve talked before about the difference in value between renting and buying a home . But for some people, trying to think long-term about these decisions isn’t an option at the moment. Before even considering buying a house, many people still have to rent a home or apartment while they set aside saving to one day purchase a home of their own. If this is your first venture into a rental lease agreement, there are a few things you should know. We’re in the business of saving money, and with these nine tidbits in mind, you can be, too.

We’ve talked before about the difference in value between renting and buying a home. But for some people, trying to think long-term about these decisions isn’t an option at the moment. Before even considering buying a house, many people still have to rent a home or apartment while they set aside saving to one day purchase a home of their own.

If this is your first venture into a rental lease agreement, there are a few things you should know. We’re in the business of saving money, and with these nine tidbits in mind, you can be, too.

Learn the Fair Market Rent

Known shorthand as FMR, the fair market rent is the gross amount of rent including utilities (except telephone) one can expect to pay to rent privately owned, existing, safe, sanitary housing. Officially, FMR is established by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, but unofficially, you can use FMR to determine whether your potential property is listed at a fair price.

Hop over to RentData.org to look up the FMR by zip code, or make some side-by-side comparison to similar properties in the area. It’s apples to oranges, though; one property with better amenities might out-price a unit with the same number of bedrooms and square footage.

However, if a property appears to be listed unjustifiably high, you may be able to use that as a bargaining tool for lower rent.

However, if a property appears to be listed unjustifiably high, you may be able to use that as a bargaining tool for lower rent.

Prepare for a Background Check

If you have any loose ends left untied from your past, it’s best to get your business squared away prior to your background check—otherwise, you might be out the cost of an application fee in the event your negative report disqualifies you. At the very least, you can expect a tenant screening report that reflects your credit history and your ability to meet your financial obligations. If you’re applying to more than one place, see if you can produce and submit a copy your own recent credit report to help save money on application fees.

Negotiate Lease Terms

Many renters are not aware that they actually have the power to negotiate some terms within their lease contract. For example, say your lease is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, but you can’t move in until late January; you may be able to request a 1/15 move-in date with a pro-rated rent.

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