Before you start looking for an apartment, you should do the following things. If you do these things it will make things go much smoother for you and you will be less likely to have a problem.
Set a Budget
Decide how much rent you can afford to pay each month. The general rule is that you should not pay more than 30% of you entire income.
For Example, if you make $3,000 a month your rent should be $900 or less. Ideally you should aim for less so that if your rent goes up you will still be able to afford it.
Set your Criteria
Have a good talk with yourself and ask yourself what kind of apartment and neighborhood are you looking for? Do you want a quiet one, one near a park, school or work? Do you want a first floor or second floor apartment?
Be sure to check out the neighborhood before you decide that a specific apartment is good for you. Go there during different times of the day and don’t be afraid to visit the local spots where you will be visiting to do shopping, laundry etc.
Be sure to visit it at night and on the weekends so you can talk to people who live in the neighborhood.
Do you feel safe? Are the people friendly? Don’t rush into making a final decision on a place until you have done this.
When you are visiting the apartments, make sure you ask what is included for each one you visit. Don’t assume that something is included without asking.
Ask if electricity, water, cable and internet are included. Some will include some of this and others won’t. Also find out what the average electric bill is for that apartment so that you will know you can afford it.
If you can’t get this information from the person showing you the apartment ask one of the other tenants when you come back to visit.
Inspect the Property
Once you have decided on the place you want to rent, you should schedule a final walk through with your landlord.
You and the landlord should inspect the apartment and mark down what you find so if there is any question as what condition the apartment was in when you moved in, you will have it documented.
Check to see that the faucets, toilet, tub, shower and appliances are working. You would hate to get all moved in and find out the heat does not work.
Open the freezer and refrigerator and make sure they work and do the same for the oven and burners. Does this apartment have a dishwasher and garbage disposal?
Make sure you check these out too. You will want to make sure there are no leaks and that the doors and their locks work. If there is anything that needs fixing make sure you get it in writing that they will fix it.
Read the Lease
Whatever you do, you need to sit down and read the lease carefully before you sign it. You are right, it is long and boring but I promise you if you don’t, you will run across surprises that you did not expect after you sign it.
Your apartment manager may sit down and go over it with you but you need to take it home and read it carefully.
Know what happens if you turn your rent in late, what the late fees are, what happens if you need to break you lease early.
Also make sure you ask about who is responsible if things break. Listed below are some things you should pay particular attention to.
- When does the lease start and end (look for the explicit dates)?
- What is the policy for overnight guests?
- Is rental insurance required?
- Make sure it states the monthly rent and the deposit fee
- Will they allow subletting?
- Will you be penalized if you leave before your lease is up?
- Under what circumstances can the landlord revoke your lease?
- What are your obligations for repairs?
Get Rental Insurance
Whether your landlord requires it or not, you should get rental insurance because it will protect you against theft, fire, and other types of damages that can happen to your belongings.
You can get renters insurance from any local insurance office. It does not cost much ($25 to $35) per month. If anything happens to your belongings, the landlord’s insurance will not cover you. Renter’s insurance is your protection; don’t go without it.
In conclusion don’t be in too much of a hurry to rent out an apartment. Make sure you do your homework so you won’t be disappointed.