Tips for First-Time Renters: Everything You Need to Know

The process of finding, applying for, and moving into a home can be stressful. While it’s not always easy for rental property owners and property managers to navigate this process, tenants have to do the actual moving. 

It’s also become an interesting and fast-moving rental market. There’s always competition for the best properties, and if you’re a tenant, you’re probably wondering if you’re going to find a home you want to rent, let alone get approved for it. 

As you apply for a home and submit to a screening process, you know that your potential landlords will be digging up financial information, contacting employment and landlord references, and evaluating the amount of debt that’s on your credit report. All of this can induce anxiety and make you wonder whether it’s worth it to move at all. 

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide with tips for first-time renters. We’re covering a lot of the sore spots for tenants, from the application process to the move-in day. Hopefully, this will bring some ease and some peace of mind to your moving journey. 

To make the application process less difficult, make sure you’re willing to communicate openly and honestly with the landlord or property manager who is accepting your application. Ask questions about rental criteria and make sure you understand the rental standards that are in place so you don’t waste your time and application fees for homes that you likely won’t get.

RiverTowns Checklist for Renters 

Understand the Rental Criteria

Save yourself some time, an application fee, and the potential for disappointment by ensuring you’re likely to get approved for the property you want. If it’s not already provided, ask about the standard rental criteria that an owner will use to decide whether you are approved or denied for their home. These criteria will establish minimal standards for income, credit, and other factors. It can help you decide whether you want to apply for a property at all.

Provide All the Information Requested on an Application

Complete your rental application. Every line. 

It’s never a good idea to leave out important information. Applications that have blank spots or incomplete answers will usually be discarded or passed over. Answer everything, even if it’s complicated. You will always have a chance to make further explanations. Not sure how long you were actually at your former apartment because you studied abroad for a few months? Talk to us about it. 

Make sure you proofread the application so that you know everything is accurate. When phone numbers for former landlords don’t work or your sister ends up picking up the phone when we think we’re calling your employer – red flags are raised, and you’re less likely to be approved for the property. 

Provide all the information we ask for, and make sure it’s accurate. Be sure to sign where indicated. 

Prepare to Explain Gaps in Housing or Employment History

Most landlords and property managers like to see a stable history of employment and verifiable rental history. 

If there are any gaps in yours, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be denied. Simply make sure you’re willing to explain. If you went to school for two years and didn’t work, make sure you include that in the application. If you lived with family members for a year after an ugly divorce, be transparent about that so your landlord understands that you aren’t trying to hide something. 

Be up-front about any credit situations, too. We know that not everyone is going to have perfect credit. The economy has been up and down over the last decade, and we’ve been through a pandemic. We know there’s a lot of student and medical debt that can weigh down a person’s credit. If you have a lot of unpaid debt or you’ve recently declared bankruptcy, you’ll need to explain the situation and discuss what led you to those financial problems. Make sure you can demonstrate that you’re making a fresh start and you’re acting responsibly with credit and money now. Landlords will not want to see recent evictions or outstanding housing-related debts. 

Don’t Avoid Our Calls 

We may have questions during the screening process, so don’t avoid us. Once you submit your application, you should hear about its status relatively soon. Answer our calls and return our messages. This open line of communication will move the process along more efficiently. 

Move-In Inspections and Your Memphis Rental Home

Once you get approved for your property, you get to start packing and planning. 

If we’re your Memphis property managers, we’re going to conduct a thorough move-in inspection before you get the keys and settle into your new home. We do this for two important reasons: 

  • First, we want to make sure everything is clean and functional before you begin the lease term. 
  • Second, we want to document the condition of the home. 

When you move in, you have the opportunity to conduct your own inspection and make your own documentation. 

A lot of tenants will have so much to do and be in such a hurry that they skip the move-in inspection, but it’s not a good idea to blow it off. If you don’t notice and document something that’s wrong, we’re not going to know about it, and then we’ll think it’s damage that you caused after you move out. Let’s avoid this misunderstanding. Spend a few minutes inspecting the property before you move in. If you see that something is broken or damaged or not quite right, take a photo so you have proof, and send that to us. This provides you with documentation and an email trail that you can refer to later. 

These 10 minutes will be well-spent. You’ll protect yourself against security deposit claims at the end of the tenancy, and you’ll also give us the opportunity to make sure everything is just the way you expect it to be when you move in.  

Let RiverTown Realty Help You

At RiverTown Realty, we believe in establishing strong tenant relationships. We work with you throughout the process of locating a home, applying for that home, and moving into that home. Today, we have some additional tips on ensuring your application is favorably considered, and your move-in process is as stress-free as possible.

If you’d like to talk further about how to apply for one of our properties for rent in Memphis, please don’t hesitate to contact us at RiverTown Realty.