The Apartment Rental Process for New Renters
Whether you’re an upcoming high school or college graduate, a newlywed, or just ready to move out of your parents home, making the decision to live on your own for the first time is an exciting one. Indeed it is a rite of passage into adulthood. If you or someone you know is renting an apartment for the first time, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Let us walk you through the process of how to rent your first apartment.
Budgeting for Your First Apartment
It’s best to do your homework before making the leap, however. First, you’ll need to be realistic about what you can afford. Most experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your net income on rent and housing expenses. Don’t forget about utility deposits and monthly bills. Be realistic about budgeting for an apartment and stick to it.
The Apartment Search
Once you have an idea of what you can afford you can then get serious about looking. Make a list of what criteria you’d like in an apartment. For example, do you prefer one that’s close to a grocery store and entertainment? Or you might be concerned about the distance from work or school.
Once you narrow apartments down by location, you can hone in on the specifics, like number of bedrooms, floor plans, and amenities.
Start with driving around the area you’d like to live and look for apartments nearby. Or, do an apartment search such as “apartments in Fort Wayne” to look for an apartment in your city. Visit the apartment communities web site to learn more about the community, to take an online tour, look at floor plans, find out about rent and other costs, and learn about amenities. Also, check out review sites to make sure that other residents are happy with the community.
To make the most of your time, set aside a day to visit the properties that you’ve narrowed it down to. Be aware Saturdays are the busiest days for the leasing agents showing apartments, so try to go sometime during the week. It’s best to call the leasing offie and set up an appointment with them, but if you can’t, most apartment communities will still be happy to give you an apartment tour. Allow 45 minutes at least so you have ample time to ask questions.
Make a list of questions you have for them and write down the answers so you have them when reviewing the apartment list later on.
Some questions to ask when renting an apartment :
- How much is rent
- When is rent due
- How long is the lease
- What (if any) utilities are included
- Are pets welcome at the apartment
- Is rental insurance required (if not, it’s still a good idea to get it!)
It’s important to make a good impression. After all, the leasing agent is evaluating you just as much as you are sizing them up. Start with a polite phone call to set up a time to meet. Then when the time comes, arrive early or on time and greet him or her with a firm handshake and warm smile.
Apartment Rental Application
If and when you decide the apartment is the place for you, it’s time to complete a rental application. This is a tool used by apartment communities to screen potential renters. You’ll need to provide employment and monthly income, as well as your rental history. You’ll also be asked to sign a consent form giving them permission to run a background and credit check.
Be prepared to pay a rental application fee. It is permitted for apartment communities to charge an application fee to cover the cost of the credit check, usually in the $20-$30 range. Also, have a list of references handy. You’ll want to notify them before, so they know the leasing agent may be calling and can be prepared to give you a good word.
Signing the Lease
If everything goes as planned, the next step is signing the lease. Prior to signing it’s best to express any concerns. Know that once you sign on the dotted line, you are legally bound by the terms of the lease. You should read it at least once to make sure you fully understand the agreement.
Besides the rent, another fee you should be aware of is a deposit. This protects the landlord in case you terminate the lease early or trash the apartment. However the good news is that if you leave the apartment in the same condition or better as move-in day, you can get it back.
Once all the paperwork is done, it is time to prepare for moving day. Read our article on Moving Tips and Tricks and Where to Find Free Boxes for Moving. Best of luck with the exciting days ahead and congratulations on your first apartment!