Get Ready to Rent: Know What You’re On the Hook For
Before you sign a lease, make sure you and your budget can support additional expenses beyond rent.
Check with your potential landlord to be sure what is covered in the rent and what is extra, such as:
- Utility fees (electricity, gas, water)
- Phone service
- TV service
- Internet service
- Trash pickup
- Common area use fees
- Renters insurance to protect the personal items in your rental unit from theft, fire, storms and other damage
Don’t be afraid to ask what average amounts were paid by the previous tenant for utilities such as gas, water and electricity. You can control how high you turn up the A/C, but you can’t control high energy costs due to poor insulation and drafty windows.
“I’ve always dreamt of living in my first apartment, all decorated cute, and something that when someone came to visit, I could be proud of,” says Ali Kvidt, a freelance photographer and nanny who lives in Minneapolis.
But for Ali, the reality of planning, preparing and paying for the move to her first place was more complicated than she expected.
One of the biggest things that took her by surprise was the extra cost she hadn’t anticipated.
“Of course, I always knew that the deposit, application fee and electricity would need to be paid,” she says. “But I guess I never took into account that my Internet, cable, water, heat and trash, especially, would need to be paid. I guess I always figured that came with the rent.”
Ali could’ve let herself get tripped up by the extra expenses or ignore them completely — throwing them on a credit card like they were no big deal. Instead, she planned ahead, saved up, and successfully made the big move. Read Ali’s full story on OnYourOwn.org.