Looking for an apartment can be a difficult task, but there are some really important things to keep in mind before signing a lease. Living on your own can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with a good amount of responsibility. Understanding your rights as a renter, knowing what to look for in a good apartment, and making sure you’re getting the most for your money are just a few of the things you need to keep in mind. Because most leases are a minimum of one year, you want to make sure you find the right apartment for you, and that it will be a place where you will enjoy living.
Finding the Right Apartment:
Be sure to set a budget so you know how much you can afford.
Make sure you feel safe in the neighborhood you are considering renting in.
Decide whether you will need a furnished or unfurnished apartment, and keep in mind that unfurnished apartments are typically less expensive.
Find out about parking in advance, especially if there will be more than one car that will need to be stored.
If you are considering having a roommate, make sure you will get along with them, especially in a live-in situation.
Make a checklist of the things you want and need in an apartment, and use that as a guide for choosing an apartment.
Asking the Right Questions:
Find out if utilities are included in the rent, and if so, what they entail.
How much is the security deposit? This is important to ask before making any lease agreement.
Is your rent stabilized? If not, how much is the landlord allowed to raise it every year?
Do a walk through or inspection before renting. Make sure the apartment is safe.
How is the air quality? Is there mold, mildew, or ventilation problems?
What are the neighbors like? Get to know who lives next to or above and below you.
Understanding Your Lease and Responsibilities:
Most realtors and landlords will run a credit check, so make sure your credit is in good shape.
Learn about residential leases, and what they mean to you. Get familiar with the terminology.
Learn about renter’s insurance, what it covers, and if you will need to get it before you sign the lease.
Understand what the main terms of your lease are, and what you must do to avoid being in violation of the lease agreement.
Have a good grasp on what your responsibilities as a renter are, as well as what your landlord’s responsibilities are as well.
Read up on what an apartment lease really is, and what the advantages and disadvantages are.
While you are obligated to follow through with your lease agreement, some of the terms may be negotiable, but you’d need to arrange for these changes before you sign.
After You Sign the Lease:
Once you’ve signed the lease, have fun decorating your apartment just the way you want it, to make it feel more like home.
Make sure you set up all utilities to be turned on the day of or the day before your move so you will be comfortable once moved in.
You can furnish your apartment on a budget by looking in thrift stores or smaller furniture stores that sell items at a discount.
Find out what the main reasons for eviction are, and understand the eviction laws of your state.
All renters have rights under the law. Make sure you understand the rights that apply to your state.
What to Do When Moving Out:
Not everyone gets their entire security deposit back in full; find out what the terms are from your landlord so you can get it all once you move out.
Most landlords expect the apartment to be cleaned out before you move out. Clean all floors and carpets, empty the refrigerator, and remove any stains or smudges from the walls before you move out.
When you move out, make sure you turn off the utilities so you do not end up stuck with a bill later on for services you are no longer using.
See if you can do a final walk-through with the landlord before you move out, so they can see that everything has been cleaned and repaired to their satisfaction.
Think about all of the steps needed before you move out, so that the transition will be fairly easy.
Understand your rights as a renter so you will get the most out of your renting experience.