Become a Rental Insider

Working Your Way Through the Rental Process

There are various steps to selecting the right rental home or finding a property that meets your needs and budget. The rules can be daunting if you are new to renting or haven't rented.

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Here are some tips to help you determine what's most important to you and help you work your way through the rental process.

Assessing Your Needs

Carefully assessing your needs and knowing what to look for and avoid is the key to finding a rental home. Your Real Estate Agent can provide detailed information on target areas before your home-finding trip, helping you maximize your time and efforts. One of the essential steps in finding your new home is knowing exactly how much rent you can afford. Your rent should be no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income (although there are exceptions to this rule).

Advance Deposits And Fees

It is also important to remember that renters are typically required to pay a security deposit (usually one month's rent) in addition to the first month's rent before move-in. Additionally, some renters must pay their last month's rent in advance, which is often the case when renting a home from a private owner. A rental application fee, which can cost between $35 to $100, is also usually required. For example, suppose there is a homeowners association. You can expect to pay an application fee ranging from $50 to $200. Pet owners will also have to contend with additional security deposits or non-refundable pet fees in the neighborhood of $250 or more for each dog or cat.

Inspecting The Property

When you have found a property that meets your needs, scrutinize it before signing a lease.

  • Windows should open, lock properly, and have screens.
  • Sliding glass doors should open cleanly. Screens should be operable and intact.
  • Check the roof for missing or curled shingles, ceilings, and walls for watermarks and other signs of leaks.
  • Check plumbing and water pressure by flushing the toilet and running the faucets.
  • Ensure any included kitchen appliances work properly (range, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.)

Before Signing The Lease

Once you've decided on a property, the landlord will probably ask you to fill out a rental application. This information allows the landlord to check your credit history (usually through a credit bureau) and your relationships with former landlords. The form will request information such as:

  • Previous and current employers and landlords
  • Salary history
  • Banking information
  • Credit card information
  • Social security number
  • Personal (non-work related) references

The Rental Agreement or Lease

You must sign either a rental agreement or a lease before occupancy. A lease specifies the length, terms, and rent payments. Rental agreements are sometimes known as "month-to-month" arrangements. Either you or the landlord may end the contract at any time with proper notice. Similarly, the landlord can adjust the rent with reasonable notice as laws and regulations permit. A lease is usually the more favorable option, as it guarantees a fixed rent for an extended period. Nevertheless, a rental agreement offers more flexibility if you are uncertain about how long you will be renting.


A lease is a binding legal document stating that a tenant can occupy property owned by the landlord under specified conditions. Although leases vary, they usually specify the following:

  • The lease must have a complete description of the rental property.
  • The rent payment amount, due date, late charges, and grace period
  • The amount of the security deposit and the conditions under which the landlord might retain it
  • Landlord and tenant responsibilities (landscaping, repairs, etc.)
  • Rules and regulations while renting the property
  • Available amenities or services (trash removal, swimming pool, laundry facilities)

Clauses Requiring Your Attention

  • A termination clause that describes what happens at the end of your lease
  • Automatic rent escalation on a lease renewal or other circumstances
  • The transfer of repair duty from the landlord to the tenant
  • No smoking clauses, which are standard and strictly enforced


Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Are you seeking a rental home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? With his team of experienced agents, Eric offers clients a turnkey approach to purchasing, renting, or selling real estate along the Treasure Coast and beyond.


Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs with no obligation.