Being a first-time renter is no walk in the park for students. Quite often, they are unprepared and lack knowledge about the renting process, including the problems which may be encountered.
This blog isn’t meant to scare students who are first-time renters, but rather to enlighten them with some knowledge of the potential challenges they may face, once searching for an accommodation.
Here are some common problems first-time renters might run into:
1) A landlord / property manager requests references, but I’m a first-time renter and don’t have any.
Don’t fret! There are ways around not having any previous landlord references. Often landlords or apartment community managers will simply require a larger security deposit as an alternative, or perhaps a guarantor to sign the lease as well. Alternative references may also be requested, such as an employer or character reference.
2) I’ve been asked for a credit report/check, but I don’t have a credit history.
No credit? Well it’s probably time to start building one! The easiest way to build a positive credit score is by acquiring a credit card, then routinely making small purchases on it and always paying the balance off on time. Individuals who don’t want a credit card can alternatively secure a small loan from their bank, then make on-time payments or pay it off right away. Many landlords or property managers will require a credit check, so it’s a wise move to be prepared and create a positive credit history beforehand.
3) I need to provide proof of income, but I’m a student and don’t have a job.
Even if a student doesn’t work, first-time renters almost always have to provide proof of income. This may be in the form of financial aid, student loans, scholarships, etc. If the student’s parents are footing the bill for the education, they’ll likely need to sign off as co-signers/guarantors.
4) An apartment owner rejected my rental application - what now?
No need to worry about this as it commonly happens to first-time renters; especially in more competitive rental markets. Expect to spend more time shopping around to find a rental that is open to first-time tenants. Don’t get discouraged by rejections – just keep looking! It is recommended that students utilize websites and off-campus housing services that cater to students – such as Places4Students.com.
5) I can’t afford any really nice apartments that are close to my school.
The easiest solution to this problem is to consider one or more roommates. By sharing living accommodations, rent and utility costs can be cut down significantly. Living independently without a roommate, especially as a first-time renter, can be extremely expensive. If living with a roommate is out of the question, perhaps residing farther away from campus and commuting would be a viable solution. Rentals very close to school tend to be more expensive, due to the desirable location.
6) I’ve been asked to sign a much longer lease than what I need, since I’m a first-time renter.
Some landlords and apartment community managers will want an extended commitment and lease from first-time renters. This can be a good thing to help develop rental history and build references. But if the lease length is too long, the student may need to pass on the place. In certain circumstances, the lease length may be negotiable or subletting may be an option.
The Places4Students.com Team