You’ve saved up some money and landed a good job. Now you’re ready to become a first time renter and move out of your relatives’ home.  If you want to leave the nest on strong footing, there are some important things to consider.

Keep in mind that moving out of the house means learning to pay bills on time, and the rent bill should be your highest priority when it comes to spending your money.

Budget smart to avoid hassles

Know what you can afford to pay for rent up front. Ideally, rent should make up less than 30 percent of your income. Being certain you can afford the rent is important.

In most places, there is no grace period to pay rent. If your landlord allows one, it will be written into your lease. A landlord may also charge “reasonable” fees for late rent. Usually, it’s a small percentage of the rent which kicks in around three days after the due date. 

Make notes about deposits, policies, and which utilities each landlord pays. Remind yourself of the amenities and drawbacks for each unit before making a commitment.

Make a good impression on landlords

You may have heard that the rental market is competitive across the country. It’s true. So, when you’re ready to rent, bring all the paper work you need with you.

If you have no credit or rental history, start with this 4-step plan:

  1. Be ready to show income and dates of employment. Provide contact information for at least one work reference.
  2. Have at least one bank account. 
  3. If someone who is qualified is willing to co-sign for you, bring him or her along. Have a guarantor ready, so that all you need are signatures and dates.
  4. Bring along contact information for two or more character references, such as teachers, mentors or friends.

Most of this information can be used to fill out an application, a standard form most landlords require. This allows the landlord/agent to conduct background and credit checks.

In many cases, you’ll have to pay an administration fee for the landlord/agent to run a credit check. A landlord/agent can only legally charge this fee if he or she runs the credit check. Always get a receipt for any fees, deposits, or rent you pay.

If you’re in a rental market where people line up for open houses, you may need to move quickly. Ask how many people have put in rental applications before you go to a showing. If it’s quite a few, and you’re unlikely to get the property, you may want to pass. Whenever possible, take a night or two to weigh the pros and cons of each rental.

Securing your first property

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document. Be certain that you understand what’s covered in a tenancy agreement Ask your landlord, or a solicitor any questions before signing a lease. 
Your first month including finding the bond can add up, The good news: If you take care of the property, and abide by the lease, you should get some, or all, of your deposit back when you move providing, there are no rental arrears owing or dilapidations to the property. 

Moving In

Inspect your new property. Write down any concerns or necessary repairs on your inventory.  This allows you to notify the landlord about problems, and protect the bond you paid at the start of the tenancy.

As a tenant, it’s your right to live in a safe and habitable environment. Both you and your landlord have certain maintenance responsibilities for the property, these are outlined in detail in your tenancy agreement.

To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to put your tenant repair requests in writing. Your landlord has an obligation to respond. If you need to make a complaint to your landlord, again, do it in writing.

Never let a structural defect, health hazard, or community concern just sit. Telling your landlord about problems immediately can protect you from liability when you move out.