Adulting 101: What Do You Need to Rent a House?

In 2019, property management estimated that renters accounted for nearly 36% of the U.S. population. That means 44 million people across the country rent their homes or apartment.

That could be you, too! But you may find yourself wondering, “What do you need to rent a house?” 

If this is your first time living on your own, read on for everything you need to consider.

What Do You Need to Rent a House?

Start by determining your rental budget. Generally, your rent should not exceed 30% of your gross monthly income.

In 2019, the average hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. was $22.96, and $18.56 for a one-bedroom, according to iPropertyManagement.

But keep in mind that number depends on what state you’re living in, what amenities are included in your rent, and any other additional fees, like pets. 

Also, determine whether you will have a roommate or roommates Make a list. Splitting the cost of rent among two or three people can help you save up for other moving expenses.

Once you’ve identified your price range, it’s time to start searching.

Do Your Research

Make a list of your “must-haves” for your rental home or apartment. Do you want onsite laundry? Does the unit have to allow pets? How far are you willing to commute to school or work?

Once you’ve made your list, search for rentals available in your area. You can do this through popular real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, or Apartments.com, or you can check Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

Then, start touring the units that interest you. Prepare questions for the landlord, and see if you can negotiate anything in the lease, like the duration of the lease, parking, or cable and internet. 

Submit Applications

Most rentals charge an application fee and require basic personal information, such as a valid photo ID, social security number, and recent paystubs. Additionally, be prepared to provide the following: 

  • Name, phone number, and email address
  • Current and previous address(es) 
  • Employment and income details
  • Pets
  • Emergency contacts
  • Landlord, personal, and professional references 

You may also consider investing in renters insurance to protect your home from fires, theft, and other disasters. Not only will this give you additional peace of mind, but it also might be required by your landlord.

Sign a Lease

When you sign a lease, you may be required to pay a security deposit plus the first month’s rent before you can move in. Usually, your landlord will give your deposit back once you move out — that is, if you’ve seen the lease to its full term and the home or apartment was not damaged beyond the usual wear-and-tear. 

Read the lease carefully so you understand the terms of the agreement. Is the trash collection provided? Are you responsible for lawn maintenance? Are water and utilities included? Who do you call if something breaks? 

Also, check with your landlord on their preferred monthly payment method. Do they accept cash, personal checks, or money orders? Can you make payments online? What day of the month is rent due? What happens if you make a late payment?


Once you’ve signed a lease and paid your fees, it’s time to move in! You may not have a lot of furniture to begin with, so it might be a good idea to shop secondhand or consignment stores for the basics: a bed, a sofa, a table, some chairs. 

You might also consider enlisting the help of a moving or storage company to take some of the hassles off your back.

Not sure what bases you need to cover when moving out? The folks at Storage Box can help you with even more moving tips for first-time renters. 

Welcome Home

So, what do you need to rent a house? In general, you’ll need to do your research, provide your personal information, and understand the terms of the lease before you enter into an agreement.

And if you’re moving out, don’t forget to provide adequate notice of intent to terminate your current lease. That way, you avoid additional fines and penalties.

Now that you know how to rent, you’re ready to turn your first house into a home. 

Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out our real estate section for more of the latest trends in the housing market. 

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