The Ins and Outs of First Time Renting

As a first-time renter, I feel extremely qualified to share my expert knowledge on what to look for before signing a new lease. Looking back a year ago, I was busy deciphering my own lease with my roommates, and by deciphering I mean calling my parents several times and getting them to define all of these different terms I had never heard of before. Finally finding your own place is extremely exciting, but this is one instance where you shouldn’t just blindly mark off the “I agree to these terms and conditions” checkbox before proceeding. So, without further ado, here are some important things to look for before signing your lease.

Check that the length of the lease is clearly written in the contract. You want to know the exact date when you can move in  and when you have to move out. Many property managers and landlords will fine you for not strictly adhering to these dates. twelve-month leases are common, but some places operate on a month-to-month lease. Month-to-month lease rents tend to be more expensive, and you will probably have neighbors moving in and out all the time because their lease is up. Stability is key here.

Find out who is responsible for the appliances.

When my roommates and I first moved into our place, we found out our refrigerator was not working. According to our lease, if our appliances break, we would be in charge of paying for the repairs or completely replacing them on our own. Thankfully, since the refrigerator was broken before we moved in, an exception was made. Going along these lines, you’ll want to try and find out the age of the appliances. If your lease specifies that you’ll be responsible for the appliances, you don’t want to have to fork over a pile of money just because the 60-year-old washing machine finally reached the end of its lifespan and broke down.

Make sure your new place is cleaned and inspected before

you move in. You’re almost always required to pay a security deposit before moving into your new home, and in most cases you’ll get that full deposit back if you leave your home spotless when you move out. Wouldn’t it suck to lose that money because you and your property manager or landlord didn’t notice a random hole in the wall left by the previous occupants?

Ensure that the lease spells out your privacy rights.

Imagine you just had a big party at your place and left all the cleaning for tomorrow. You don’t want your landlord or property manager barging in the next morning and seeing that mess. See if your lease mentions anything about the landlord or property manager being required to notify you with a warning that they will be stopping by to avoid any awkward interactions.

Determine if utilities are included in the monthly rent.

Unlike at Trinity where the cost of utilities never even crosses your mind, they’re a real thing off campus, and it’s important to find out how you’ll be paying for them. If they are included in the monthly rent, that’s great. If not, remember you’ll have to add that estimated amount onto your monthly expenses. You’ll also want to figure out who you pay for utilities. Our property management handles our utility bill, but other places require you to pay the utility companies directly.

Many of us have survived renting, and you can, too. So here are a few things we wish we had thought of.

Random Things to Ask:

So, what about cable and Wi-Fi?

When are the trash days?

Where are the outlets!?

Where can I do my laundry?

Terms to Know:

Security Deposit


Renter’s Insurance

Water Allocation

Pet Rent/Deposit