Important Tips for First-Time Renters

If you’re looking to rent an apartment in the near future, there’s a lot you need to know. The renting process has changed quite a bit over the years, so it’s important to be prepared. This guide will provide important information you need to get started on your search for the perfect rental.

Understanding Your Budget

The first thing you need to do when looking for an apartment is to figure out your budget. How much can you afford to spend on rent each month? Remember that rent isn’t just the monthly payment – it also may include utilities, internet, and renter’s insurance. It is recommended that your income is 2.5 times your monthly rent amount. You can calculate this by looking at your net income after taxes and subtracting your expenses like phone bills, insurance, car payments, loans, clothing, food, and entertainment, and subtracting the amount you wish to save each month; the amount remaining is how much you should be able to spend on rent each month.

Finding out Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors in renting an apartment. Your credit score is a crucial element of your credit report that gives your landlord or property management company an overview of how well you have managed your bills, debt, and general finances over the years. Some landlords will run a credit check to determine your credit score, while others will ask you to supply a copy of your credit report. The credit score you need to rent an apartment will vary based on location and many other factors but building a good credit score makes you a more competitive applicant.

Once you have your credit score and budget in mind, you can start looking for apartments that fall within your price range. Many websites and apps offer search filters that allow you to input your desired price range, so use those to narrow down your options.

How to Find The Right Apartment

With a better understanding of your financial situation, you can narrow down your options to what you can afford. To narrow the choices, we recommend you sit down and list your must-haves and nice-to-haves in an apartment. This will help you focus your search and weed out apartments that are not a good fit for you. Some things to consider include:

Choose Your neighborhood

Location is one of the most important factors to consider when renting an apartment. You’ll want to think about things like commute times, proximity to public transportation, and whether you’re looking for a quiet or more vibrant neighborhood. When researching the location, you should consider the following:

  • How close is it to work?
  • Do I prefer driving, public transportation, or walking?
  • Do I need quiet or want to live in the middle of it all?
  • Is my dream location more expensive than the surrounding neighborhoods?
  • How far do I want to be from museums, restaurants, and attractions?


Determine The Size and Layout

Deciding on the size and layout you want in a rental property will help you narrow your search and find a place that is more suitable for your needs. If you know that you need a certain amount of space or would prefer a certain type of layout, you can eliminate properties that do not meet those criteria from your search. This will save you time and energy and help you find a rental property more likely to be a good fit for you. In addition, by having a clear idea of what you are looking for in a rental property, you will be better equipped to negotiate with landlords and get the best possible deal on rent.


Think About Amenities

In addition to finding an apartment that meets your basic needs in terms of price and location, it’s also important to consider the available amenities. For example, if you’re someone who enjoys staying fit, you’ll want to ensure that the apartment complex has a gym or at least some space to exercise. If you have young children, you may want to look for an apartment complex that has a playground. And if you’re someone who loves spending time outdoors, you might want to choose an apartment complex with a swimming pool or access to green space. Taking the time to consider your needs and preferences can help ensure that you end up in a place that feels like home.

In addition to shared amenities, think about what you want inside your apartment. An updated kitchen, outdoor space like a balcony, oversized bathroom off the master bedroom, and closet space are all worthwhile amenities to consider.

Consider parking Situations

If you have a car, you’ll need to factor in the cost of parking. Consider whether you need a covered space, assigned parking, or if on-street parking is readily available. You should also consider whether you feel safe walking to and from your car at night.

If you don’t have a car, you should ensure that the area you plan to live in offers public transportation, bike-friendly routes, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

How to Apply For an Apartment

Now that you’ve researched and found the perfect apartment, it’s time to apply. The rental application process is important because it’s how landlords determine if you’re a good fit for their property. Here are a few tips to help you through the process:

Evaluate The Rental and Landlord

Before you apply, it’s important to do your research on both the rental property and the landlord. By taking the time to evaluate your options, you can avoid some common pitfalls that can make your rental experience less than ideal.

For starters, look at the condition of the rental unit itself. Is it well-maintained, or does it appear to need some serious repairs? You may want to move on to another property if it’s the latter.

As far as the landlord goes, try to get a sense of their management style. Are they responsive to tenant concerns? Do they seem reasonable and fair, or are they unreasonable and unyielding? Again, if you have any doubts, it’s probably best to keep looking. You should also use this time to determine if the landlord requires an application fee and how much the security deposit is. 

In short, doing your homework before applying can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ensure you’re comfortable with the property and the landlord before making any commitments.

Gather Your Documentation

When looking for a new place to rent, it’s important to ensure that you have all the needed documents. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing delays or even being denied altogether. The most important document is, of course, a rental application. This will give the landlord or property manager a chance to get to know you and ensure that you’re a good fit for the property. They’ll also want to see proof of income, as this will help them to determine whether or not you can afford the rent. Finally, you’ll need some form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. With these documents in hand, you’ll be able to apply for a rental property confidently.


Be Truthful

Being honest about your situation is important when filling out a rental application. Don’t try to hide any red flags, as this will only come back to bite you later on. For example, if you have a pet, be upfront about it. Trying to sneak a pet into a rental property that doesn’t allow them is dishonest and can get you evicted. The same goes for things like smoking or having a criminal record. Many landlords and property management companies run a background check when you apply for a rental property. In sum, be truthful from the start and you’ll likely increase your chances of being approved for the rental unit.

Read The Lease Agreement Carefully

If you are approved for the rental property, your next step will be to sign the lease agreement, and it’s important to read the rental agreement carefully before you sign it. This document outlines the terms of your lease. By signing the lease, you agree to abide by the rules and regulations outlined in the document. Failure to do so could result in eviction from your rental unit.

The lease agreement will include important information such as the lease term’s length, the rent amount, and any required deposits. It’s important to review this information carefully to ensure you can afford the rent and that you’re comfortable with the length of the lease. This document will also include a section on tenant rights and responsibilities. This section will outline your rights as a tenant, such as the right to a safe and habitable living space, and your responsibilities, such as paying rent on time and keeping the property clean and well-maintained. Reading and understanding the rental application can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable rental experience.

Sign The lease and Move in!

Finding the right apartment can be long and arduous, but it is well worth it in the end. By understanding your budget, credit score, and what you are looking for in an apartment, you can make the process much smoother.