To rent an apartment
How to Find and Rent an Apartment
Ready to have your own place? Here’s what you need to know to rent an apartment.
Renting an apartment is such an adventure. Until now, you’ve had to live wherever you were told to live. But renting an apartment of your own means you get to live where you want. But no adventure is truly exciting if it’s completely easy. Knowing where to look and how to apartment search, deciding what you can afford, trying to decipher the lease—it all can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.
5 Steps to Renting an Apartment
1. Set a rent budget.
Knowing how much you have to spend is essential to finding an apartment. Nothing is more depressing than setting your sights on a dream place only to realize you can’t afford it. Instead, before taking any property tours, sit down and figure out how much money you can spare for rent.In addition to looking at regular monthly expenses, consider how much you’ll need for utilities, renters insurance, and any community association fees. This will provide a better picture of how much you can afford when renting an apartment.
2. Research the neighborhood around the apartment.
Searching for an apartment based on rent alone is only part of the picture. You’ll live in both the apartment and the neighborhood where it’s located. Visit the apartment building or complex to see the area firsthand, or do careful neighborhood research on social media. “Up-and-coming neighborhood” could mean busy and noisy city streets. “Mass transit within walking distance” may actually be a 15-minute walk through an unsavory part of town. Also, take a tour of the property to see all of the amenities included in rent. Is the community swimming pool big enough for the complex? Does the on-site laundry facility have more than one washer and dryer?
3. Talk it over.
Once you find a place you like, talk to existing tenants to find out their experience renting an apartment there. Just be friendly, mention you’re looking for an apartment, and say you want to know what they think about living there. Ask if the landlord is responsive to maintenance problems or other concerns and if they plan to renew their lease. Also talk with the rental agent to get all your questions answered: the monthly rent, when you can move in, or if there are any extra fees or restrictions (think pets, noise ordinances, etc.). After all your questions are answered, then consider filling out an application. (Note that there may be an application fee, and you’ll likely be asked to provide ID, pay stubs from your job, and personal references.)
4. Sign the lease. Rent an apartment!
Once your application is accepted, you’ll be asked to sign the lease. Though it might be dry reading, be sure to go over the entire thing and understand all the provisions. Look to see what, if any, the early cancellation fees are, under what terms the lease can be canceled by you or the landlord, who is responsible for damage to the apartment, what happens if your rent is late, and so on. It should all be in there. If you don’t understand the document or feel uncomfortable signing on the spot, ask the landlord or leasing agent if you can have a few days to review it. Then take it to a trusted family member, or, if possible, a lawyer familiar with rental and housing laws, and ask them to help clarify anything you don’t understand. Never feel pressured to sign something before you’re comfortable with it. If the renting agent pressures you to sign immediately, consider it a red flag.
5. Protect your belongings.
After signing on the dotted line, get some renters insurance. In most cases, you alone are responsible for your belongings when they’re in the apartment. Most renters insurance is actually quite affordable and protects against things like fire or theft. Some policies also cover medical bills if someone is injured in the apartment, as well as living expenses if you have to relocate temporarily. Make sure to know the limitations of the policy, though. Most renters insurance doesn’t cover expensive items or damage resulting from natural disasters. And if you have a roommate, they’ll need to get their own policy.