The information you need to know before renting an apartment can be somehow overwhelming. There are many questions that you need to answer before you rent an apartment.
- Where can you apartment hunt for the best unit?
- How can you qualify for your first apartment?
- What does a rental agreement involve?
- What ongoing expenses must you have in your rental budget?
We all know that renting an apartment comes with a lot of demands. This guide will dissect this information for you.
Here, we’ll focus on how to rent an apartment and the considerations to have in mind.
What You Need to Know About Renting an Apartment
There is a lot of information you need to know about apartment renting. Let’s go through them below:
Where to Search for an Apartment
There are many websites listing apartment complexes for rent. These websites make it easier to locate an apartment than anything else. They’ll also save money and the time to visit the apartments physically to find out basic information, such as apartment rent.
However, even after finding an apartment online, you need to visit the location physically to ensure that it meets your standards.
Below are some of the top sites to consider:
Submitting an Apartment Rental Application
When you come across an apartment that interests you, take an extra step to submit your apartment rental application.
The application provides the property owner with the information they need to determine your qualification for occupying the apartment.
Most applications require you to make a non-refundable application fee. Before completing your rental application, ask the property management about their income and credit requirements.
Most landlords require a minimum credit score. They also typically have a certain income requirement, which varies based on location. However, most landlords require their tenant‘s gross monthly income to be about 2.5 times their rent.
This is also the best time to discuss any concerns you might be having related to qualifying. For instance, you can mention to the landlord issues such as an eviction record, criminal conviction, or pet ownership.
The rental application covers personal information such as birth date, driver‘s license number, full name, recent employment, rental history, social security number, and contact information. Some landlords require you to even list personal references on the application.
Below is a list of things that are typically required to complete a rental application:
- Proof of identification (state ID card, passport, or driver’s license)
- The property’s application form (signing the form authorizes the landlord to run a background and credit check)
- Vet records for those having pets (for confirming general good health and vaccinations)
- The application fee
- Proof of income (bank statements or pay stubs for the past few months)
- Some landlords require your previous landlord’s contact information
What Landlords and Property Managers Consider During the Approval Process
During the approval process, the landlord reviews your income to determine whether or not you can afford the rent. They will then review the credit history to determine whether you can pay your bills on time.
The landlord can also run a background check, depending on your local laws, to see whether you have a criminal conviction. Finally, they can contact your references or previous landlord to confirm your responsibility and reliability.
The landlord checks every applicant’s credit, income, and criminal background to ensure their personal property is in safe hands. Always keep this in mind while applying with a cosigner or roommate. Any issue with their application might prevent you from apartment qualification.
Understand the Lease or Rental Agreement
A rental agreement for lease is a document that states the terms and requirements of your rental apartment. It outlines critical information, such as late fees on rent payment, lease expiration date, rent due date, and how much rent is to be paid.
It also lists the apartment rules and policies that govern how you behave while in the apartment. The apartment lease commonly involves policies on everything from keeping the balconies or patios clean to quiet hours in the apartment.
The apartment agreement also documents some ‘what if’ situations. For instance:
- Who should a tenant contact if they encounter a maintenance issue?
- What will happen if your rent is late?
- What happens if you break the lease?
- Is it possible to renew your lease for a new term?
- Can you add a pet during your stay?
- Are you allowed to sublet the apartment?
All these questions will be covered in the lease.
It’s, therefore, critical that you read your apartment agreement well. Note down everything that you don’t understand and clarify it from the landlord later. Ensure you understand the lease before signing it.
All signatures should be appended on the lease before you receive the keys.
If you have a cosigner or roommate, ensure they’re available to sign the lease before or on the move-in day. This way, you won’t have challenges getting into the apartment.
Budget for Unexpected Rental Costs
Apartment renting requires more than just the monthly rent amount. You need to be aware of certain additional costs.
For instance, there are certain upfront costs that you must pay before moving in as a first time renter. They include the rental deposit, application fee, and the cost of a moving truck or professional movers.
First time renters are required to pay their first month’s rent in full before moving in. There are localities and apartments where paying rent for the last month is mandatory as well.
If you own a pet, confirm from your landlord whether they require you to pay a pet deposit or monthly pet fee.
You should also expect some unexpected costs from renting an apartment. Utilities, such as sewer, trash, and water, might be incorporated into your rent. However, in some cases, they aren’t included in the rent.
In most cases, your rent doesn’t include internet and electricity. You should, therefore, include such costs in your monthly budget. There might be separate monthly fees for spaces such as storage units and parking spots.
Consideration While Renting an Apartment
Apartments are available in all setups, sizes, and shapes. Finding the best apartment for your family starts by defining your unique preferences and needs. Before you rent an apartment, you need to make a list of must-have features you need.
Whether it’s your last or first apartment experience, finding the best apartment that meets all of your needs isn’t going to be easy. You should, therefore, keep the following considerations in mind while determining the best apartment:
Apartment Rent Prices
You should first ask yourself whether you can afford to live in the apartment. Here, consider whether the monthly rent is within your budget.
You can conduct online research to determine the rental rates within the neighborhood. If you’re ready to pay a high price for a particular location, consider the different ways you can cut back your living expenses.
You can also consider getting a roommate to share the costs. The apartment is a no-go zone if its rent is higher than other rentals within the neighborhood. Understand the market before searching for an apartment or negotiating the price.
Quality of the Apartment
Never trust all the beautiful pictures you spot online. Before you pay for the apartment, consider visiting the apartment in person. Inspect everything to ensure that the landlord is aware of possible repairs.
You should understand that the landlord can always fix cosmetic issues, like scratches on the wall or broken blinds. However, deeper issues may indicate poor apartment maintenance.
This is also the time to look for safety and health issues, including water damage, asbestos, bug problems, leaky faucets, dirty air filters, air conditioning systems, electrical problems, broken windows, mold, heat not working, lead paint, rust, and rodents.
Landlord or Property Manager
The landlord or property manager can either break or make your renting experience. You might end up in a rental nightmare if you get a bad landlord with no boundaries and bad ethics.
To prevent such from happening, meet with your potential landlord before you rent the apartment. You can also chat with them over the phone to determine their level of friendliness.
You can even consider asking the tenants in the apartment about their experience with the landlord.
Before you move into your first apartment with roommates, we recommend that you get to know them better. There is a high chance that your roommates will also screen you.
Remember that you don’t have to be a friend to your roommates, however you should respect each other. You should also ensure that you have a matching lifestyle.
For example, if you don’t like loud music, but your roommates prefer loud music, your stay will be difficult. In such a case, you should avoid college students, since most of them prefer loud music.
Apart from your roommates, you need to consider your potential neighbors carefully. While meeting with potential roommates, you can ask them how the experience with their neighbors is. If the roommates complain about any neighbor, please RUN.
Dealing with inconsiderate neighbors is frustrating.
Before you sign a lease, we recommend that you walk around the neighborhood to understand the community. By spending time in the neighborhood, you’ll be able to assess the demographics and general age of the location.
It would also help to investigate the safety and security of the area. To manage this successfully, you need to check sites such as the AreaVibes, NeighborhoodScout, Moving.com’s City Profile Reports, CrimeReports, Family WatchDog, The National Sex Offender Public Website, and SpotCrime.
You can also consider whether the community contains specific rules. If you’re considering apartment communities with an HOA, you need to clearly understand their rules and expectations before signing the apartment agreement.
This is also the time to look into the specific parking and traffic regulations in the neighborhood.
Lease or Rental Agreement
Before you sign a lease, you should find a lawyer or local realtor to look over the lease agreement and ensure that it’s a legitimate and standard lease. Go through the lease to ensure that it meets your needs.
For instance, if you would like to sublet the apartment in the near future, ensure that the lease allows you to do it. Check whether the lease is a month-to-month, six month lease, or one year lease.
The lease also outlines the date that the rent is due. It would help to check who is in charge of maintenance in case there is a problem as well.
Most importantly, check whether the security deposit is refundable after the lease expires.
The landlord should include the pet policy in the lease. If you have plans to get a pet or have one already, understanding the pet policy is critical.
Ensure you confirm whether the landlord charges a pet deposit. Also check whether the deposit will be refundable.
The lease might also outline the pet types allowed and their weight limitation.
You should always understand the utility costs. Apart from the monthly rent, you might also be forced to pay for different utilities. Some utilities include electricity, sewer, air conditioning, water, gas, and garbage, amongst others.
Some amenities may be included in your monthly rent. If you have any doubts, check with the landlord.
Available Amenities and Features
When selecting a new apartment, ensure you consider the available amenities. If you decide to rent in an apartment complex, ensure the amenities available fit your lifestyle.
Some of the questions you need to ask yourself and answer include:
- Do you need extra security or a doorman?
- Is an elevator necessary?
- Does the apartment have a gym, or is one located in the neighborhood?
- How is the public transportation and commute system?
- Are there shops and restaurants in the neighborhood?
Some critical amenities you can consider include:
● Swimming pool
● New appliances
● Additional storage
● Private balcony
● Fitness center
● Fire pits
● Walk-in closets
● Furniture, such as coffee table and chairs
The Bottom Line
Even before you start the rental process of apartment hunting, you need to understand how to rent an apartment. After locating an apartment of your preference, you should prove to your potential landlord or property manager that you’ll be a good tenant.
The key to getting approved for staying in an apartment is having a solid credit history and having enough money to afford the apartment. You may be forced to provide your credit report.
It would also help to budget for extra monthly expenses that come with renting an apartment.
To have a smooth stay in the perfect apartment, ensure you read and understand the rental agreement, and adhere to all the terms and regulations in the lease.
We hope that you get the perfect first apartment at an affordable price.