You’ve finally made the big decision to move into your first apartment. It is a big step forward; however, one must be prepared for the onset of responsibilities, to-do lists, and the renting process. It is time to start your house-hunting process, find your dream apartment to rent, and, more importantly, set a budget.
But since this is your first time doing this, you mustn’t get caught up in the highs of dreaming about your new home and overlook some essential requirements. Setting a budget will prepare you to determine other related factors, such as the term, loan interest rates, minimum down payment, etc., you can afford, and which property tax by state is under budget, to help narrow your listings while looking for new apartments.
Before you jump into finding an apartment to rent, you must be mindful of the different things involved, take the appropriate measures to find a home, and sign that first rental lease. First-time renters must keep their documents in check, including credit score, income proof, and references, and make a list of must-haves they’ll need while considering their new home.
Other important factors include the location, number of bedrooms, minimal security deposits, adequate apartment condition, etc., that suits the tenant’s budget and lifestyle. To further discuss this, here’s a look at a few vital strategies to help you land your first rental apartment.
Did You Know?
About 34% of the US household population are renters.
Table of Contents
12 Smart Strategies to Follow Before You Rent Your First Apartment
1. Fix a Comfortable Budget
When you rent an apartment, you may have to put down an initial deposit when you sign your lease and pay a fixed monthly amount to your landlord. Before renting an apartment, create a flexible budget to cover these expenses while allowing you to be comfortable with these expenses. Having a budget will reduce the financial stress that often comes with renting a new apartment the first time.
2. Look at Your Credit Score
Landlords want to ensure that you can make payments on time. Many landlords might want to check your credit score to check your financial stability and ensure that you can make your rental payments on time. Before you apply for any lease, review with potential landlords about credit score requirements, and ensure that yours falls between the suitable score. The average monthly rent falls between $1000-$2000.
3. Shortlist a Few Rentals
Look at a few different places when apartment hunting. Do not settle for the first suitable place you come across. Shortlist a few apartments that suit your living requirements and analyze them further before deciding.
4. Consider Getting a Roommate
Sometimes, you may come across an apartment that you feel ticks every item on your checklist. However, the rent may be outside of the budget you have set for yourself. In such instances, you can consider getting a roommate to make rent more affordable while still getting to live in your dream apartment.
5. Collect References
Many landlords may screen your application and want to talk to acquaintances to check if you’re a suitable candidate to rent the place. Before you apply for any lease, collect a few reliable references who will be able to give a trustworthy impression about you when a landlord checks in.
6. Understand the Neighborhood
When searching for the perfect apartment, research every neighborhood near your selected location. You want to choose an area with efficient public facilities, transport routes, low crime rates, pet-friendly spaces, and more. The more you know about a neighborhood, the better your chances of finding the ideal apartment.
7. Visit the Landlord and Apartment
Always visit the landlord of an apartment you find appealing, and ask them to show you the space. It will allow you to ask questions about possible concerns after seeing the apartment in person. Also hiring a homeowners property management company is the best option for first-time renters as they’ll negotiate the best rental price, ensure the home is in a renter-ready state to avoid repairs and remodeling, effectively improve the landlord-tenant communication and overall help you make the best choice.
8. Look for Hidden Fees
It is always beneficial to check your rental lease for any hidden fees. More often than not, costs towards wi-fi, pet accommodation, parking, and other non-essential necessities are hidden upfront. It is best to thoroughly read the lease or question the landlord about everything to get the necessary information. A report showed that, on average, $44 million of housing costs were taken up by renters. Hence, it is essential to always check for hidden fees before deciding.
9. Always Double-Check Rental Websites
While these websites show you different apartments to rent according to the information filled in, it is better to double-check the information, as two other websites may show varying details about the same apartment. You want to be 100% sure about a place before applying for the lease.
10. Check Landlord Reputation
There are websites where tenants can leave reviews about their rented apartments and landlords. Visit a few of these sites to see if the landlord has a good reputation and if previous renters have deemed the property a suitable place to stay. Such information will allow you to be more mindful when choosing an apartment.
11. Ask as Many Questions as Possible
Before you sign a lease, ask the landlord as many questions as possible. It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small questions. Even the slightest bit of information can change your perspective about a potential apartment. Hence, asking questions and being as aware as possible about an apartment you plan on renting is always beneficial.
12. Understand the Contract
All landlords will have a fixed rental contract they give their tenants. It is necessary to thoroughly read the contract given to you, understand its terms, and ensure that it sits right with you. It is a crucial process as it will help you avoid any risk that you may not be able to deal with at a later stage.
Renting your first apartment is a significant deal in life, both exciting and overwhelming. Exploring a new space and making it your home means ensuring you’re successful with the whole process. It can be intimidating not knowing what you should look out for. But following a few simple and smart strategies will ensure you land the apartment of your dreams. Hence, use this list as a guide to everything you need to remember before renting your first apartment.