Are you heading back to college this fall? If so, you might be about to move in to your first-ever rental house or apartment. Here are some tips for first-time renters:
- Check your credit report. When you apply for that house or apartment, the landlord will probably check your credit report as a part of your background check. (And they might charge you a small fee to do it.) What’s in your credit report – if you have one – affects whether you’ll get the place. Get your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies. Check the reports carefully to make sure the information there is right. If it’s not, learn here what to do next. If you haven’t built enough credit to have a credit report, or if you have credit problems, you may need someone to co-sign your lease.
- Look out for rental listing scams. Scammers sometimes hijack real rental listings – or just make up a listing. Before you pay, always visit the apartment or house, inside and out. If someone tells you to pay a fee or deposit before you’ve actually been to the place, that’s probably a scam. And never wire money or pay with a gift card. Anyone who says you have to pay that way is a scammer. Read more about rental listing scams here.
- Remember when rent is due! Mark it as a repeating event in your calendar. If you don’t pay your rent on time, you could be charged late fees and risk eviction. If you can’t pay on time, talk with your landlord. You may be able to negotiate a one-time extension on paying rent a few days after it’s due.
For more information, check out Renting an Apartment or House.
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