When you’re first starting to look for a new rental home, you’ll most likely be viewing all kinds of properties and talking to tons of different landlords; once you’ve found the right home, you’ll start the process of applying to rent the home. Rental applications are pretty easy to fill out, but that doesn’t mean you should take them lightly!
Basically, rental applications are what landlords require possible tenants to complete to see whether or not the property is a good fit for them. What does this mean for you? As far as the information you’ll have to provide, your possible landlord will need basic information from you, as well as a few more specific things. You’ll have to give your contact information (how else will they tell you that you’re approved?!), information about your current and/or previous place of residence, proof of employment, proof of income, and maybe a recommendation or a personal reference number, among other things. Aside from the proof of employment and proof of income, a lease application isn’t too different from a job application. Your landlord requires those other pieces of information in order to be able to determine whether or not you’ll be able to pay for the property, and whether or not you have a history of being a good (or bad) tenant. As far as the other things that you may be asked on the application, be prepared to disclose the balance of your bank account, and your social security (to perform credit checks). Again, these are required so that your possible landlord can guarantee that you’ll be able to pay your rent.
If you’re in the market for a new rental home, it’s important to give yourself an adequate amount of time for your search. Before picking the first property you see, spend some time doing some research about the property and look at all of your available options.
Ask current residents what they think! Since they’re currently living there, they know the current state of the community and how management is currently doing things. If you have a friend who lives in the property, ask them what they like and dislike about the property and whether or not they recommend it to you. You’ll probably get a wayyy more honest answer from them than from someone who is trying to get you to sign a lease.
If you don’t have any friends or family who have experience with that property, don’t worry! In this day and age, we have one of the most wonderful research tools available to us: Google. Doing a Google search of the name of a community or property management company you’re considering signing a lease with can give you crucial information that you wouldn’t otherwise know. Sites like Google Reviews and Yelp have comments and reviews from people that have lived in that place, or dealt with that property management company. You have to consider that if someone took the time to write a review, they probably feel very strongly about what they wrote. The property management company you’re about to sign a lease with may have horrible reviews because of their lack of care for residents; this is something you wouldn’t know just by talking to someone at the lease office. Don’t rush your search and sign with the first property you see just because it’s a great price, or nicely maintained. Sometimes these things mask the reality of the property and by the time you realize it, it’ll be too late.
Moving to a new place can be a bit scary (and also super exciting), and that’s why it’s up to you to make sure that you create a safe environment for yourself to make your move as easy as possible. Safety goes hand in hand with feeling comfortable where you are, don’t overlook it!
A good place to start is with safety in the home. Always make sure your windows and doors are locked when you leave your home. No matter where you live and how long you’ve lived there, it’s never okay to leave doors and windows unlocked. If you’re scared that you may lock yourself out one day, so for that reason you always leave a hidden window unlocked, just carry a spare key. Keep a copy of your key in your wallet or purse so that you’ll always have one on you. Leaving a door or window unlocked just makes your home an easier target for crime, and you definitely don’t want that.
An alarm system is a really good investment to consider when you move into your new home. You don’t have to find a super fancy and expensive system, there are simple ones available that are not expensive and get the job done. If and when you decide to install an alarm system, be sure that you put some kind of notice on your home (alarms come with decals or signs of some sort) to let others know that you are being protected and to deter break-ins. If you have children, it’s imperative that they are also well aware of staying safe in their new home. Make sure that they have the necessary emergency contact numbers, and know how to determine when there is an emergency.
Don’t forget to talk to your neighbors! We covered this recently, check it out here, and it really is so important. You and your neighbors are the people that make up your immediate community so it’s up to all of you to keep it safe. If it doesn’t already exist, you all may want to consider setting up a neighborhood watch program. The National Crime Prevention Council is a great resource for learning the steps to take to establish a neighborhood watch program in your community. A program like this is extremely effective in keeping your neighborhood safe and crime free. This is also a great way for you to become more involved in your community and feel more at home in your new place.