CSP Chapter 1 Lesson 1: Define Your Housing Needs

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Lesson preview: This lesson will help you explore and consider other features of rental properties, to further help you choose the right rental for you, such as number of bedrooms, baths, yards, and parking, and what the typical costs are of rent and utilities and deposits for various properties. Also covered are the features of a neighborhood you might want to consider.  A helpful Rental Comparison Worksheet is provided.


Choosing the Best Property for You


Here are some basic considerations to start with:

  •  Household size – The total number of adults and children you will be living with will help to determine the type and size of property you’ll need. Leases often indicate the maximum number of occupants.
  • Type of property – Do you want to live independently in a separate house or are you willing to share some facilities with others. This will help you decide on a single family home, multiplex or apartment style living.
  • Number of bedrooms – The minimum number you’ll need depends on the number and age of people and who might share rooms.
  • Yard – Do you want your own yard? Does it need to be fenced? Are you prepared for the responsibilities of maintaining the yard?
  • Parking – How many cars do you need parking for?
  • Garage / Storage – Do you want your own storage or parking space?
  • Pets – The kind of pet do you have will determine special needs. For example, a large dog may need exercise space and a fenced yard. Do you need your own fenced yard?


Additional considerations to help you identify your needs:

  • Appliances – What appliances (like fridges, washing machines, dryers) are included and what do you need? You might need to buy your own. You may need to store or sell your own appliances if the landlord includes appliances with the property.
  • Furniture – What furniture is included and what do you require? You might need to buy your own. You may need to store or sell if the landlord includes these with the property.
  • Pets policy – You will need prior approval for any pets. Be sure to ask if a pet deposit or a pet fee is required and if the deposit is refundable if your pet does not cause damage to the property. Fees are not normally refundable.
  • Length-of-stay – Initial lease and renewing thereafter – This is important especially if you want to stay long term.
  • Move-in date – When can you move in? Consider how you will move from your current property to the new property. Do you need to rent both at the same time for a short period?
  • Disability needs – Do you or your families have special needs that require accommodations? These include access such as elevators, entrance ways, ramps, wide halls and doorways, special bath/shower accesses or special handles to avoid falls.


Considerations about the best neighborhood for your needs:

  • Neighborhood safety – Is the neighborhood safe for your needs?
  • Neighborhood facilities – What facilities do you need to walk or drive to? Shops, parks, doctors, hospitals?
  • Schools – Do you need elementary, middle or high schools within walking distance? What public transport is available? What is the reputation of the school? Will your needs change over coming years?
  • Transport – Are major roads available? Will you need local public transport? Will the public transport meet your needs?


FAQs about the typical costs of rentals:

  • Rent per month – What is the cost of the rent? When is the rent due? How do I pay the rent?
  • Utilities per month – What is the cost of the utilities? When is the payment due? What is the cost?
  • Other ongoing costs – Are there additional costs you should budget for – yard maintenance, lawn mowing? When is the payment due? How do this amount?
  • Security Deposit – How much is the security deposit? How much can I get back?
  • Application fee – How much is the rent? When is the rent due? How do I pay the rent?
  • Screening fee – How much is the rent? When is the rent due? How do I pay the rent?


Rental property comparison checklist page 1

Rental property comparison checklist page 2


Back to: CSP Rental Readiness Program – West Alabama > Chapter 1: Find the Rental Property that Fits Your Needs