Home ownership has long been the dream of many. Despite the pros of owning a home, the ongoing costs associated with maintaining it makes many people wonder if they could actually rent an apartment. That said, buying a home isn’t the best way to live a comfortable life. So, if you’re one of those who want to rent an apartment, going forward with your decision might be a great option for you.
Renting an apartment offers numerous benefits, including affordability, low maintenance costs, safety, and access to amenities. Plus, you can choose to live in a location having proximity to your favorite places.
Renting the First Apartment
Renting your first apartment is a huge milestone, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Still, it might be a mistake to think that renting an apartment only requires paying rent on a monthly basis.
Before you sign the lease agreement, settle in, and start to pay rent; there’s a process to go through. It might be hard to remember all the details, but it’s helpful if you do your homework and break down the tasks before they all pile up.
Making Your Apartment Hunt Easier
Searching for and renting your first apartment is a rite of passage that many adult citizens go through. Depending on where you are in life, you may already have lived in several apartment communities or apartment complexes.
The next step is to rent that first apartment as an independent adult or finally getting that dream apartment in a desirable apartment community. In both cases, you want to make the best impression on the property manager, the property management company, or the landlord owning that particular unit.
From submitting your rental application to having a few month’s rent on hand, it’s best to make sure everything is ready for acquiring that coveted rental unit. Most apartments in desirable locations are in very high demand these days. So, be ready to spring into action and get that signature on a lease or rental agreement!
How Renting an Apartment Works
Are you ready to move into your first apartment or dream apartment? With so many options of apartment communities, it might be possible to make your apartment hunt easier by streamlining all the things you need to do before committing to a rental agreement.
If you want to start ticking off items on that all-important tenant-landlord checklist, but aren’t sure where to start, keep on reading! The points below will hopefully help you figure out the many steps for renting a quality apartment:
1. Determine Your Rent Budget
Before you can even think about filling out a rental application, it’s essential to figure out how much monthly rent is affordable for you. For most citizens, monthly rent is one of the major expenses they make from their after tax income.
There might be a lot of luxurious rentals in the apartment communities you tour, but you shouldn’t even go there until you know how much rent is in your budget for now. A virtual apartment tour can be the most cost-effective and convenient option for determining whether a certain unit is within your reach or not.
You might have to compromise on some things at this point in your life in order to stay within budget. At the end of the day, it’s better to pay rent within your means than live in a large, flashy apartment while struggling to make ends meet.
Determine the Rental Range You Can Afford
Before signing a lease agreement, look at the following things about your own financial situation:
- Monthly Income: This may include your day job salary, payments from your home-based business, a cash flow from certain investments, and so on
- Savings: While it’s not recommended to regularly use your savings for the monthly rent, these can come in handy for paying the security deposit, initial months rent, or just the first month’s rent if you can’t manage it otherwise – a little money saved up can also be useful for paying one month’s rent in case things get tough
- Credit Card Payments: Look at your average credit card payments and see whether your budget can fit these in, along with a monthly rent. You can ask for online quotes for reference.
- Car Payments: These are also a usually non-negotiable part of your monthly expenses, but which is more important: car or apartment?
How Much of Your Income Should Go Towards Rent?
Conventionally speaking, the usual saying is that your rent shouldn’t be more than a third of your take-home income. However, the reality is that monthly rent can take up to half of that income – especially if you plan on living in a large city.
With this in mind, every tenant needs to make sure that there’s enough money left over after paying rent. Living expenses, such as transportation, food, and utility bills, are also a part of life. So, it’s worth budgeting for such expenses when you’re considering apartments. And if you often find yourself barely making ends meet every month, make sure you have a reliable lender to turn to, like CreditNinja.
What are Your Top Priorities?
It is also important to consider your priorities in renting an apartment. Here are some of the most common considerations for renting today:
- Transportation: if you travel to work or school, you need proper roads and/or a good public transport systems nearby
- Extra space for a home office: Many people are working remotely, have a home business setup, or earn through freelancing opportunities; in such cases, a designated work area is indispensable – make sure to check out the floor plans and see if there’s a proper space within your shortlisted options
- Sharing a space: Sharing a rental unit with roommates can drastically cut down on living expenses and also divide the rent payments each month; however, not everyone is cut out for sharing a space with other people
Additional Points to Consider:
- Personal preferences and lifestyle: The location of your ideal apartment might be in the center of the city or something more on the outskirts; if you’re away from home most of the time, a small apartment may not be so bad
- Pets and kids: If you have either one or both, there might be additional fees to pay
- Miscellaneous: Consider other factors that are of importance to you; these may include a convenient parking spot, facilities for a disabled family member, and so on
2. Determine Credit Scores
You may not have thought about credit scores before looking to become a renter for the first time. Your credit report will show a three-digit number that is determined from your credit history. This includes your past experience with the following:
- Banks, especially loan repayments and credit card payments
- Auto loan issuers
- Insurance companies
Along with potential landlords, your credit history is also important when you’re getting a new credit card or opening a bank account.
Apartment complexes and individual landlords might perform credit checks for any potential tenant who submits a rental application. The score will be an essential way of determining whether you can manage bills, general expenses, debt, and rent all at once.
How will a Landlord Run Credit and Background Checks?
Some property management companies or landlords might run a credit check on their own; others will ask for a credit report copy. In some cases, renting an apartment might build credit. Your rental history will also matter for some landlords, if applicable.
Bad credit can be one of the factors that disqualify you from renting an apartment. You may still be able to rent a decent place, but it may require a higher security deposit, a cosigner, or some other compromise.
However, the exact score you need to start renting will depend on the location, community, and several other factors. In general, though, a high credit score will make an applicant more competitive and desirable than others.
3. Conduct Research According to Yourself
When you ask other people for advice, they’ll give it according to their own preference and experience. However, you are the one who will be living in that rented space. You will be looking forward to relaxing, rewinding, and recharging in that apartment, and, perhaps, work on your goals within those four walls.
With all this in mind, you need to check a rentals’ space out for yourself. Below are just some general things to check out when you plan to take an apartment tour.
What to Look For While Viewing an Apartment
Keep in mind that potential tenants can utilize their right to inspect an apartment before renting one. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a checklist so you can verify the overall functionality of the apartment:
● Check each space in the apartment, as well as the apartment building; look at the parking spaces, laundry rooms, grounds, clubhouse, and gyms, if any
● The person giving you the tour of the apartment isn’t obliged to show every single detail; with this in mind, feel free to test out each faucet, door, window, appliance, etc.
● Take a tape measure along and note down the dimensions of the spaces available; if you’re bringing your own furniture, you have to make sure that it will fit
Some More Points to Consider
Remember that you’ll be spending a large amount of time in your dream apartment. So, it’s worth being detail-oriented while finalizing your decision. Therefore, you should go ahead and consider these points as well:
● Visit a few times to ensure that the noise level, air smell, and other factors remain constant during different times of the day
● Ask about the security level of the building or the apartment community in general
● Take a close look at the kind of light you get; large windows with natural light are usually the best option
If you’re going to live with other people (family or not), you should go beyond the first impression. Make sure they are people that you trust and can bear for some time. Ideally speaking, roommates should have a similar lifestyle, compatible schedule, and other perks that can make a shared space possible.
What if You are on a Virtual Showing?
If you’re on a virtual tour, ask the agent or landlord to double-check all of the above for you. There shouldn’t be any problem asking about measurements or asking them to turn fixtures and appliances on and off. The same goes for looking at any space that’s outside of the apartment, but still within the premises. However, it’s always best to look at an apartment in-person before committing to anything. You don’t want to overlook any damage that can cost you that security deposit, nor do you want to break your lease early due to uninhabitable conditions.
There might be times when the leasing agent or prospective landlord isn’t willing to answer all your apartment hunting questions or let you double-check certain things. In such cases, it’s probably best to bow out and contact the leasing office with your concerns.
4. Understand All the Lease Terms
Once the community approves your rental application, you can go ahead and inquire about renters insurance (if any). You can also ask about all the things you need to do in order to sign the lease. However, always remember that the lease is a legal document that binds you to certain terms. Make sure to read each and every word on it before signing.
The lease agreement will tell you about the exact monthly rent, expected rent increases, and other basics. Feel free to ask any questions, consult trusted individuals, or hop online to understand any terms that seem confusing.
There is no doubt that a potential renter has many steps to take before they finally sign that apartment lease and settle into their new home. With so many factors to consider, the whole process can get a little confusing and formidable. Before paying any security deposit or applying for an apartment lease, ensure that you know what documents you need to rent an apartment.
Getting in touch with a reliable leasing agent will help a lot, but the points above can also help you navigate better on your own. Know what you’re legally responsible for and always read the rental application carefully before filling out and submitting. Everything might take some time and effort now, but it will be worth it when you’re finally renting a nice place!