First steps for first time renters

Written by Douglas Ross in Renting on June 5, 2017

First steps for first time renters

Moving out of the nest? Spreading those wings and soaring away to your first sharehouse? While it’s perfectly fine to eat pizza on a rug on the floor on your first night in your new home, there are a few things for you and your other fellow first time renters to sort out so that you aren’t still on that rug six months later.

Find some furniture!

You’re probably going to want to sit down when you get your first bill for electricity and gas, so it’s a good idea to skip straight to the furniture side of moving out.

For first time renters, it’s probably safe to assume you are in your twenties. Those clever chickens who have been saving for a deposit and are older at time of moving out may have more expensive taste when it comes to furniture. For younger renters, however, your budget might dictate some of your décor choices.

Look first within your network of friends and family for free (or cheap) furniture. This option will usually yield some great results, especially when you combine efforts with your other flatmates. Look for the big items: couch, chairs, fridge, table etc. Consider asking for certain items or a contribution to purchasing items when it comes around to your birthday or Christmas time.

The next step is looking on the internet and in op shops for some still affordable furniture solutions. Op shops can be a great source of the smaller but still vital pieces of your new home: microwaves, toasters, utensils, crockery.

Now that you have set yourself up with the key items, find yourself some house plants and a cactus or two, settle into your new comfy couch with a cup of tea and nut out your bills already!

Tip: invest in one great pan and one great saucepan and if you can afford it, one great knife. These items will last you years if not a lifetime and as cooking is a near daily activity, you want it to be a pleasurable experience.

First time renters: who does what?

Of all the housemates you don’t want to be, you don’t want to be the housemate sending passive-aggressive texts every few weeks as you chase people up for their rental and bill payments. Yet, there does have to be one person who takes on the responsibility of paying bills. Set up a separate bank account in the name of that person and have each person’s recurring bills automatically transferred from their account into this joint account. While it is up to each person whether or not their agent automatically deducts their rent from their account or whether they do it manually, no one should need to chase others for money. Rental breakups often stem from small resentments that arise from issues like this, which eventually accumulate into large grievances.

Start loving excel

Not many first time renters do this, and it’s to their own detriment, but it is worthwhile compiling a quick list of your expenses. This includes what you can foresee (rent, bills, internet) for regular costs as well as the costs of moving. As the months follow, compare what you expected your bills to be and what they really are, as well as what you expected to spend on food compared to what you really spend on food. You may quickly learn that you could be saving money if you start making meals that last two days rather than a fresh meal each day.

Do everything by the book

It may save you money at first to enter an informal living arrangement, perhaps where you aren’t on the lease. This isn’t the end of the world, especially while you’re young, but just remember the risks of doing this. Each year you rent without being on a lease is a year that you don’t have a rental history. With such a competitive and growingly expensive rental market in so many cities, you may not want to risk being passed up in the future for those who have a visible rental history.

On top of planning for the future, checking all the legal boxes protects you. Research the types of leases available to you (such as those that restrict your ability to end a lease by yourself or whether the household needs to act in unison) and ensure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s when it comes to your condition report and bond.

Lastly, maintain a healthy relationship with your landlord through your property manager. As long as you pay your rent in time and keep the property in good shape, then you should expect repairs to be made quickly.