Tips for Renting Your First Apartment
Renting your very first apartment? Or moving into a new one? YourWay Storage has tips for choosing the right apartment for your needs and what to do before moving in.
Moving out of your childhood home is an exciting time, and where to start can be a challenge. YourWay Storage has a guide below for everything you need to know about renting your first apartment, including how to handle apartment hunting, what to look for in your lease agreement, and much more!
Cost of Rent
Rental rates change over time depending on the state of the market, similar to the housing market. Do not wait until the market conditions change to start looking for your apartment, shopping around the current rental rates to find a baseline for comparing rates. Though it would be ideal to find your first apartment when prices are low, this will allow you to see what is out there and what kind of apartment you can expect within your budget.
Because real estate trends also impact renters doing some research about your town’s real estate market is a great start. Get a better idea of what factors in your area may affect your search by checking the local market frequently during your apartment hunt.
If rent prices have risen dramatically in recent weeks or months, this will usually indicate a low supply and high demand. When checking rental rates for an apartment you are looking at be ready to act quickly to lock down an apartment that may be right for you. Apartment hunting can be competitive and knowing your market will give you a better idea of how quickly you will need to make decisions.
When you are doing research in the area in which you hope to get an apartment make notes of common sizes, what amenities are included in the cost or available to you, and the price range. Your budget will determine what size apartment and included amenities you will be able to afford in the rental market.
When you start looking for your first apartment your budget is extremely important. Planning for move-in fees, utilities, monthly rent, and monthly living expenses such as groceries.
Application fees are usually a requirement for potential renters, this typically offsets the costs of credit checks that are necessary for renting an apartment. Although this is normally a required expense most landlords charge less than $50 for the application fees.
Administrative fees are something that management companies charge along with the application fee. The cost of this fee varies and signifies your claim over the apartment before the lease is finalized, some landlords will apply the administration fee to your first month’s rent.
Security deposits are to cover any potential damage to the rental unit while it is being leased. You can expect your security deposit to be equal to or less than one month’s rent. It is possible to get your security deposit refunded at move-out if you take care of your apartment while living there.
Along with the application and administrative fees and a security deposit, you will have monthly rent to pay. The size of the apartment and its location will be a determining factor in the cost of your monthly rent. ApartmentGuide is a great place to check for average monthly rent in your area. Knowing what is included in your monthly rent is important for your budget and helps to make a decision between different apartments. Some landlords include certain utilities in the monthly rent such as water, trash disposal, or maintenance.
Most landlords do not offer renters insurance but it is often a requirement for moving in. Having renters insurance will protect you against fire and water damage, as well as any potential property damage. All insurance policies are slightly different and researching available plans is a good idea while you are apartment hunting.
Dogs and Cats
Be prepared for additional costs if you are moving with a pet. Most rental properties will require an additional security deposit for your pet and a monthly pet fee. $200-$500 is the average range for a pet deposit and is usually refundable. Monthly rent for your pet is going to cost approximately $20 - $70 per pet per month. Some landlords do not charge additional fees for pets that are in a cage, it is a good idea to ask what pets require a security deposit or additional monthly fees.
Your Credit Score and Renting
Knowing your credit score is important to your apartment search, this is one of the main ways landlords screen tenants during the application process.
Having a credit score of 650 or higher will make looking for your first apartment much easier. If you are in this position it will help to know that when landlords or property management companies execute a credit inquiry it usually will not hurt your credit score.
When you are a first-time renter with a low credit score or no credit history there are a few different ways you can increase having your application accepted. Providing documentation of your finances such as paystubs or bank statements is a great way to show that you are able to make the rental payment necessary. Some landlords will require a higher security deposit or two months' rent in advance rather than just the first month. A family member or friend that can co-sign the lease with you is another option.
First-time renters who lack experience with the process of renting an apartment are more susceptible to scammers. Below are some items to be aware of to keep yourself safe and able to identify scams that are out there.
- Pricing is too good to be true
- No background or credit check
- Landlord asks you to wire money to a third party
- The manager or landlord asks for money prior to showing you the unit
There are a variety of scams out there most of which revolve around using real photos and creating a fake listing.
Create an Apartment Wishlist
Include must-have features that you cannot live without and some features that would be nice to have but that you can compromise on. Writing a list ahead of time will ensure that you get the amenities you are looking for. Some items to consider including are location(s), type of property, layout, size, and amenities.
A condo, townhouse, duplex, or even a room in a single-family home might be more enticing than an apartment building or complex. Not all rental properties are the same and deciding what sounds best for your situation is a necessary step in the process.
Knowing how much space you need is critical to choosing an apartment space that will work for you! If you are going to have roommates, pets, a spouse, or children living with you it is important to know how many rooms you need and how big each of those needs to be. When you are looking for larger spaces typically the further outside the city you search the better luck you will have!
Include items like a dishwasher, an in-unit washer and dryer, and any other appliances that you will need in your apartment when creating your list. Fitness centers, a pool, a playground for the kids, and other amenities are items to think of when creating your list.
When you start touring apartments be sure to remember your list to use as a checklist during your tour. Always tour the apartment prior to signing a lease or moving in, you want to ensure you are moving into a clean unit that is in good condition. This will allow you to meet the landlord or property manager as well.
Before Moving In
During the tour or prior to signing an agreement ask lots of questions such as:
-When is rent due?
-What is the trash policy?
-What utilities are included?
-How long is our lease agreement?
-What is the pet policy?
-Is emergency maintenance available?
If your unit does not have its own driveway you will want to make sure you understand your parking situation. Does everyone have an assigned space? Or is it first come first serve?
Understanding your lease is imperative prior to sign the agreement. Congratulations now that you have signed your lease you can get ready to move in!
It is time to start packing your belongings, changing the utilities to your name, and purchasing new items. When you start your move early it will be less stressful all around. You will need boxes, markers, packing tape, and bubble wrap for your move. Any utilities that are not included in your rent will need to be changed to your name. When calling to change services to your name a good rule is to schedule service to start about two weeks before moving in. If you are a first-time renter or moving to a larger space than you previously had, you may need to purchase some new furniture. Have accurate measurements of your rooms prior to making any large furniture purchases so that everything fits correctly.
Before you move your items into your apartment you want to do a walkthrough. Walk your entire apartment and take photos of any damages. You will want evidence of all items to increase the chances of you getting your security deposit back. This is a great time to ask any additional questions that you may have thought of since the tour.
If you need storage space while moving, YourWay Storage offers a variety of self-storage unit sizes to help with your move.