Most landlords use your most recent pay information to determine the amount of rent you can afford. You can use the same calculation method to get a general idea of what an acceptable monthly rent would be for your income.

 1. Calculate your monthly gross income. Your gross income includes wages and commissions before taxes are taken out. If your pay varies because of seasonal employment or irregular hours, be prepared to explain fluctuations and provide additional verification of your pay. 

2. Add the results of your income calculations and multiply the sum by 0.33. The result equals one-third of your monthly income and represents the standard rent amount most landlords will use to estimate your ability to afford the rent. It is recommended that your rent not be higher than 25 percent to 30 percent of your monthly income. 

 3. Calculate other housing costs. Some landlords include water, trash and sewer payments in the rent cost, but some charge these items separately. In most instances, your rent also doesn’t cover electricity, gas or cable services. Total all your monthly expenses, excluding the rent estimate from the general calculation. Subtract the expense total from your monthly gross income. The result is the true amount you have left over for rent each month.


Narrow down your search to those neighborhoods you want to live in. Keep in mind, your commute to and from work, or if you have children check school options as well as recreation areas for the little ones.

General neighborhood atmosphere, access to public transportation, and access to shopping areas are valid factors when choosing a place to rent. Check crime rates with the local police. 

If you have pets, inquire about restrictions on pets in building and neighborhood.


Make sure you have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a rental property. You may not be able to get everything on your wish list, prioritizing your requirements in advance will make your search easier.

For example, will you need an unfurnished, partly furnished or fully furnished unit. How important is it to have washer and dryer in the unit?  Does the rental property offer assigned parking? Is parking included in the rent payment? 

Couple under house drawing

When You've Found The Right Home, Act Promptly!

Many times people find their dream home — to lose it to someone else who came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.

Decide at this point that you will act decisively when you find the rental that’s clearly right for you. 



A Memo to Lease (also called Contract to Lease) is a form used to negotiate terms and conditions of the final lease agreement. The Memorandum to Lease once signed, is a legally binding contract for both Landlord and Tenant. With the contract to lease you will need a one month deposit to hold the property. This deposit is 100% refundable should tenant not be approved by the Landlord or by the Condominium or Homeowners’ Association.

You will be required to fill out an Application to Lease, they are used to determine the quality of the Tenant. The Landlord might require a credit and background check before accepting the terms and writing the lease.  Rental applications may ask some of the following basic questions:

  • Current landlord
  • Employment history
  • Bank & credit references
  • Background check

When all the terms on the Memorandum to Lease are accepted by both parties, a lease will be drawn and signed by the Landlord and the Tenant. 

Keep in mind that if you are leasing in a Condominium, or a Community, they have separate condo rental applications and credit/background checks.

The Condominium/Homeowners Association’s rental application process could take as much as two weeks, in certain counties they can take up to 30 days. You will need approval from the Homeowners or Condominium Association before you can move into the unit or house. Credit checks fees are paid by the Tenant. Condominiums have their own rental application fees that must be paid by the Tenant.  These fees are NOT refundable.


Before you sign THE LEASE,  remember this is a legally binding contract, which means you will be responsible for all terms of the agreement.

Review the rental lease carefully—here’s a checklist of items you’ll want to confirm ahead of time: 

1. Terms

How long is the rental lease and what are the terms of the rental (i.e., renewing the lease, terminating the lease early, possible penalties, renting from month-to-month, subleasing, monthly costs, etc.)?

2. Rent

When is the rental payment due? Are there penalties for late rental payments?

3. Security Deposit

How much is the security deposit and will it be refunded at the end of the lease?

4. Utilities   

What utilities (if any) are included with the rental unit including Yard/Lawn services, Pool service, Pest control, etc.  

5. Repairs

Which repairs are included in the rental unit and who pays for repairs?

How is routine and emergency maintenance managed on the rental property (onsite, on call, 24-hour availability)

6. Pets 

Are pets allowed in the rental property? Are there required deposits for pets?  If a pet deposit is required, will it be refundable at the end of the lease.

7. Early Termination

What are the penalties for early termination of the lease.

8. Renewals

Is the lease renewable? If so, will the monthly rent price increase?

Typically, a lease renewal clause requires the landlord to notify you (usually 30 to 60 days prior) that your lease term is ending and to request notification if you do not intend to renew. If this clause is not in your lease but you would like it to be, ask your landlord to add one.

9. Miscellaneous

Are there any decorating restrictions in the rental unit? (e.g., painting, hanging pictures, etc.)              


At this time, you will bring the balance of the funds required to start the Lease and you will receive the keys to your new home. Be sure to take the time to complete a move-in inspection checklist and document any issues. Check appliances, running water, kitchen and bathrooms, closets, etc.

Why is the inspection so important? First, you will be able to let your landlord know right away if something needs to be fixed immediately.

Further along, it will be (along with any pictures you take) your official proof of the unit’s condition when you moved in. If your Landlord or Property Manager will try to charge for repairs upon your move-out, it can be used to mediate disputes.

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