Renting 101

Things to look out for while touring & questions to ask

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Frequently asked questions


What Income do I need?

Most Landlords will require that you make more than enough money to cover your rent payment each month. A good rule of thumb is income of 2.5x to 3.0x your monthly rent amount. Many Complexes will require that you provide a form of income verification to prove that you qualify. Anything such as a Letter of Employment, recent Paystubs, or Bank Statements should suffice.

What about Credit History?

Apartments like to know who they are leasing to. Credit History is your past track record of paying back debt or paying a lease ontime. It is established through maintaining a credit card, car loan, or other debt/loan obligation in your name over a period of time. If you do not have any credit history you will likely need to have a parent, spouse, or trusted friend co-sign (guarantee payment of) the apartment lease with you.

Rental History?

It's common for Landlords to ask about previous rental history to get a sense of who you are. This helps them evaluate you as a potential renter relative to other prospects. Be prepared to list your previous 3 residences with address and landlord contact information to verify it's true.

What is a Lease?

A lease is a legal contract, which outlines the monthly rent you must pay and the rules you must follow in exchange for occupying the residence for the duration of the contract.

What is in an Apartment Lease?

Your info and info of roommate(s) Legal description of what you are renting Landlord’s info The date the lease begins and the date the lease ends The established monthly rent and day it is due each month Common lease term (rules): pets, guests, responsibilities, transferring the lease, the condition in which the property needs to be left if you do not renew the lease

How Can I Start Making Money?

We're here to help you find a new apartment! Check out our how it works page to learn more about the process.

What Exactly does Paid 2 Rent Do?

Paid 2 Rent is a commission sharing real estate agency. We want to help you find the perfect apartment for your needs and help you make a little extra money while doing so. We provide the resources and guidance needed to help you find your next apartment!

Is This Free for Me to Use?

Yes! This great service is absolutely free to you. The apartment complexes, property managers and owners have a budget set aside specifically for paying licensed real estate agents a referral fee when we help them lease their properties. We get paid by them so you don't have to pay us anything!

Do I Have to Sign the Lease in Person?

Nope! You can do everything onlines these days. From narrowing down the area of town you want to live in to seeing pictures of the apartment online, everything can easily be done hundreds of miles away. Most of the time, the apartment complexes have online applications and no in person interaction is needed!

Tips on Searching Efficiently

Use filters on the search engines on the websites. The two biggest factors in selecting an apartment are price range and location. Perhaps you want to be close to work, friends/family, nightlife, outdoor trails, restaurants, etc. You have the ability to search in particular areas instead of all of Austin, for example. Finding a price range can be hard. Think of your yearly salary and what percent of that salary you would like to spend on rent. Divide this number by 12 and you have a starting point of what your monthly rent should be around. Example: Salary= $100,000. 30% goes to rent= $30,000. $30,000/12- $2,500 per month.

Apartment Specific Questions

What do I need to sign a Lease?

Most Apartment Complexes require the following in order to qualify for a lease: - Proof of Income - Your Personal information to run a background check - Rental Insurance

Can I get out of a Lease early?

This depends on your Apartment Complex's policy. Most will charge you a significant reletting fee for breaking the lease early. Some will allow you to sublease your unit to another qualified leasee for a lesser fee.

How do I Pay Rent? How are Late Fees Determined?

Frequently, there is an electronic payment option. However, this can include additional small fees for processing. Another option is writing checks and giving them to you leasing office or mailing it to your landlord. If you are going to use mail, make sure you know how many days of overdue your rent can arrive. Also, you should ask how much the late fee would be. These are often included in the lease that is signed upon move in.

What is the Process of Repairs?

You want to make sure that if something with your new place goes wrong, the leasing company/landlord will be attentive and handle your repairs in a timely manner. Find out what repairs they classify as an emergency.

Refunding Your Security Deposit

Most of the time you will have to put down a sizeable security deposit. Be aware that there will be upfront costs in signing a lease. This will be held until the end of your lease and completion of household inspection. This is an important conversation before signing a lease. You want it to be very clear what would cause you not to get your security deposit fully refunded. Ask them to define what is normal wear and tear. Will they charge you for cleaning services after moving out regardless of it being in good condition?

Discuss Renewal Options

What to ask: Is it possible to renew the following year? How far in advance of the lease ending will you need to decide whether you will renew or not? Most of the time this falls within a range of 30-60 days. Make sure to find out if your lease will automatically renew if you fail to give notice of your plans. Also, if your new lease in another place begins a couple of months after your current lease ends, would they be open to paying on a month-to-month basis?

Are Utilities Covered in Your Rent?

Some places will include your utilities (electricity, water, gas, garbage) in your rent. If utilities are not included, then it is important to find out how much extra you will be paying per month on average? What is that AC bill going to run you in the summer heat?

Putting Your Personal Touch on Your New Place

Some places are more lenient than others about what you can and can’t do when decorating your new home. However, some landlords may like it if your change is an enhancement of the property. For example, installing a locking keypad on the doors. In return, they are usually willing to repay you the cost of installment by taking that cost out of your rent for a month. (This usually applies more to houses than big apartment complexes)


Life brings changes and you might need to move before the end of your lease. Find out what the policy is for subletting your room. If there is no subleasing, then ask what the penalty is for breaking the contract. You don’t want to be stuck in a lease where you are unable to handle the penalties for breaking the contract.


Find out what provisions are provided for parking. Street parking is not always ideal, as space can be limited in comparison to parking lots or garages. Many Complexes charge for parking, make sure to ask before signing your lease.

Pet Policies

Some places are pet friendly and some places aren’t. There can be breed restrictions and weight restrictions. There can also be a limit on the number of animals. Some places will charge you a one time refundable deposit. However, most apartment do charge pet application fees which are non refundable even if you end up not renting there. If you do decide to live there, there could be a monthly pet rent on top of your normal monthly rent.


Some places make you fill out an application that has a fee attached to it that is nonrefundable even if you are not approved for the lease. Some companies will want to do a background check on your criminal history. They will also look at your credit and want some proof of income so they know you can pay the rent. Usually, they like for you to make 2.5 to 3 times the amount of rent in your monthly income. They may look at your employment history up to the last year in terms of paystubs. They will also review your rental history in terms of any existing debts, timeliness of payment, and in what condition you left the property. If you are in school and your parents are helping you pay for your housing, then make sure they will accept them as cosigners or guarantors. Some companies can be hesitant if your cosigners live out of state, or they might not be willing to allow cosigners at all. Anyone willing can be a cosigner as long as they qualify. Qualifying means they have good credit and make 5 to 6 times the monthly rent.

Pre-Existing Damage

After signing a lease, you should inspect your new place for pre existing damage and take pictures to send to your landlord within the first 36 hours so you will not be charged for damage that you did not cause. The goal is to get your entire security deposit back. Damage to look for: water damage, mold, stains, cracks/holes in walls or ceiling, broken cabinets, non-functioning appliances, anything that doesn’t work properly in the kitchen or bathrooms.


All of your roommates need to sign the lease. Do not live with someone who will not sign a lease. If they leave and stop paying, then you will be stuck paying for them as well as yourself.

Lease Lengths

Usually there is month to month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. Not all companies and landlords offer numerous lease lengths. If you find a place that is listed for $1,000 per month for a 12 month lease, you can expect that it will cost more per month if you want to sign a 3 or 6 month lease.