Get Your First Apartment: How to Do It

Get Your First Apartment: How to Do It

Find out how much money you have. Look at how much you make each month. Experts say that you shouldn’t spend more than 25%–35% of your income after taxes on rent and housing. So let’s say that after taxes, your monthly pay is $1,500. The most you should pay each month for rent is $525.

You should also think about the fact that you may have to pay for some of the utilities in your rental. So you’ll need to add another $100 or more to your budget to cover these costs. Keep in mind that some flats will not even consider you if you don’t make enough money.

If you can’t find a place you can afford, you might want to get a roommate.

Make a list of what you want in an apartment. What kind of room do you want? Do you want a studio or a room with just one bed? You could rent a small house, for example. Do you need the apartment to have washers and dryers and other appliances? Do you want it to be near your school or job? Do you want to be able to walk to stores like grocery stores or coffee shops? Are you ready to live in an area that has a lot of crime?

Write down anything that comes to mind. Even though you might not be able to get everything on your apartment wish list, it will help you cut down your options.

Once you’ve picked out a few flats based on where they are, check to see if they have the things you want in a rental, like the number of bedrooms, tools, etc. Most large apartment buildings have a website where you can look at the floor plans, features, and rent prices. In smaller units, there may only be a phone number. Call those homes and ask how much they cost and how many units they have.

Don’t just use Google to look for things. Make sure to check out Craigslist if you want to find homes or flats for rent that aren’t owned by a big company.

Rental papers, which you can get for free at grocery stores, and rent.com are also good ways to find possible homes. If you use the second one to find your place, they will send you a $100 gift card. Bonus!

Plan a day to go see your prospects. You’ll need to go to the places you might rent in person to check out their state and maybe fill out an application. Visit as many of your possible clients as you can in one day to make this process as quick and easy as possible. The most popular day for landlords to show flats is Saturday, so try to go during the week. The best thing to do is to call the owners and make an appointment, but if you can’t, most houses will still show you around. For each visit, you’ll need about 45 minutes, so set up your schedules accordingly.

Visiting possible places to rent

A man from the past stands in front of an apartment building door.

Put your best foot forward. When you go to look at a possible apartment, the owner or apartment manager will judge you just as you judge them. They want to make sure that the people they rent to are trustworthy, polite, and easy to get along with. When you call to set up a meeting, you make your first impression. Be kind and say what you mean.

Dress for the event when you go to visit the place. You don’t have to wear a shirt and tie to your meeting, but you also shouldn’t show up in jeans and a dirty T-shirt. Good pants and a polo shirt will do.

Don’t be late! If you’re late to your meeting, the boss or owner might think you’re also late with rent.

When you meet the boss or owner, shake their hand firmly, smile warmly, and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

As you look at the rental place, only say nice things about it and don’t say anything negative. Don’t make a long list of changes and requests before you’ve even been given the place. That will only make owners not want to rent to you. Don’t talk about your worries until you’ve been accepted as a renter.

Look for trouble. Check the following things as you walk through the flat, but don’t say anything right away:

Look for mold, mildew, and signs of insects.
Open and close all the doors and windows, and make sure all the locks work.
Run the water in the sinks and showers and flush the toilet. Pay attention to the warmth and flow of the water.
Look for clear damage like broken fixtures, holes in walls, broken tile, etc.
Check the carpet for signs of wear and tear.
Ask questions. While you’re looking at the unit, you should keep small worries to yourself. However, you should feel free to ask the owner or apartment manager any questions that will help you decide. Here are some possible things you may consider asking:

How much is the rent each month?
Does the rent cover any of the utilities?
What is the amount of the deposit?
When is the rent due? Have you set up auto-pay?
Who are the other people living there? Are most of them younger than you? Couples who are married and have kids? Older folks?
Have any people broken into your house in the last year? Are car break-ins a problem?
What’s the situation with parking? Do you have to pay to park?
Do you take care of small maintenance problems or do I have to fix some things in the apartment?
Can I change the color of the walls or make other changes?
Again, when you ask these questions, be nice and friendly. There’s no need to fight.

Putting in the Application for a Rental

If you like a place, you’ll probably have to fill out an application to rent it. The app is used by landlords and apartment managers to check out possible roommates. On the application, you will be asked about your job, how much money you make each month, and where you have lived in the past. You’ll also be asked to sign a form that gives the owner permission to check your credit and past.

When you fill out the application, tell the truth! If you lie on it, it’s likely that the background check will find out, and your application will end up in the trash.

Also, just to be clear, sending in a rental duty does not force you to do anything. If the manager agrees, you will be asked to sign a lease at the apartment office.

Check your credit report before putting in an application to rent a place. By law, landlords can check the credit records of people who want to rent from them to see if they are likely to pay rent on time. If they see that you have trouble paying your bills on time, that’s a sign that they shouldn’t rent to you. Before you fill out an application, you should check your credit background so you can fix any mistakes that could hurt you in the rental process.

Be ready to pay a fee when you apply for a hire. Landlords can charge an application fee to cover the cost of running a credit check on you. The price should be between $20 and $30. If it’s more than that, you’re probably being ripped off. If you want to rent more than one place, the fees for credit checks can add up quickly.

To save money on these prices, you could get your own credit report and make copies to give to renters. Some people may insist on asking for the report themselves because they are afraid you changed the copy to make it look better than it really is. But you might be able to get a few of them to take your copy, which would save you money. There’s no harm in trying.

Make a list of the sources you will use. You will be asked to give a list of references, both personal and business. Have those ready, and make sure your references know that a rental might call them.

Signing the Rental Agreement or Lease

After your rental application is accepted, the owner will ask you to come to the office and sign a lease. Here is where you can talk about any problems you have with the rental unit and try to get better terms or extras. You need to be on your game during this time, because once you sign on the dotted line, you’re pretty much stuck with the terms written in the lease.

Have enough money in your bank account to cover the security deposit and the first month’s rent. When you sign a lease, the owner will usually ask for the first month’s rent and a security fee. Make sure you have enough money on hand to cover both amounts. They may only accept cash, a money order, or a bank card.

During the length of your lease, the security deposit will be kept in a savings account. If you break the lease early or leave the flat in bad shape, the owner will use the security deposit to cover the costs. You can get your security deposit back if you leave the apartment in the same state as when you moved in. More to come on that.

A lease is different from a rental deal. Leases and renting deals are mostly the same, except for one thing: the length of time. Most rental deals are month-to-month, but leases are generally for a longer time, like a year. When a rental deal ends at the end of the month, the landlord is free to raise the rent. However, a lease locks in the rental rate for a whole year.

Ask for a rental agreement if you only plan to stay in the apartment for a short time. Get a lease if you plan to stay in your place for at least a year.

Before you sign the lease or rental deal, read it! Don’t sign anything until you’ve gone line by line through the lease. When you rent from an owner, you should know exactly what you’re getting into. Write down anything you don’t agree with, and if you don’t understand something, ask questions.

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