The first-time renter

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Q: My college-age son is moving into his first apartment. Any suggestions to ease the transition? A: Leaving the nest and becoming a first-time renter? He'll have lots of company. According to the 2005 U.S. Census Community Survey, more than 36 million rental units are rented out in the United States. That's a lot of first-time renters who have found a place to call home. Leaving home to become a tenant is a big step towards adult responsibility. For many, it's the first time their behavior impacts permanently on the future -- from credit and personal reference history to negative legal possibilities. What do landlords look for? "I like to meet the parents," explains Jim Stilton, who manages more than 500 units in Los Angeles. "Meeting the parents gives me a sense of their involvement and responsibility." Sufficient income and stability also top the list. Since affording the rent is vital, start by deciding who's shelling out the funds. Parents planning to co-sign may want ...