Renting Your First Apartment: What Every First-Time Renter Should Know

Rent your First Apartment
Rent your First Apartment

Congratulations! Moving out on your own and renting your own place is one of the first major steps to adulthood – and that’s a reason to be excited! But, there’s a lot more to Rent your First Apartment than just finding a place you love and picking up the keys.

To protect yourself and your financial interests, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you sign a lease. Keep reading to learn the seven things every first-time renter should know before rent your first apartment.

1 Make Sure You Can Afford It

First things first:

Before you can shop for an apartment, you need to create a budget. That way, you’ll know how much you can spend.

Rent alone is not the only thing to think about. You also need to consider utilities, food, and other expenses.

Once you have your budget, narrow down your search. Only look at places you can afford like the apartments for rent in Altamonte Springs. There’s no point in looking at one that you can’t pay for!

You’ll also need to save some money before you move in. Landlords charge a variety of move-in fees such as security deposits, first month’s rent, and last month’s rent. So, make sure you can cover those costs.

2 Apply (And Have Good Credit)

You can’t just find an apartment move right in. There is a process to renting that some first-time renters aren’t aware of.

Most landlords require you to fill out an application and pass a credit check. So, you’ll need to have good credit.

But, having bad credit isn’t a total dealbreaker. If your credit score is low, you may still be able to get a lease with the support of a co-signer.

Some landlords will also verify your employment and require you to pass a background check. If you’re unemployed or have a criminal record, you may face a few rejections before you find a place that accepts you.

3 Read Your Lease

When it comes time to sign your lease, make sure you read it thoroughly. Skimming or scanning it isn’t good enough. Read every line of every page and make sure you know what you’re agreeing to before you sign your name on the dotted line.

Leases aren’t just legal mumbo jumbo. They’re full of useful information that you’ll need to know before you move in,

For example, every lease should outline what you can and can’t do in the rent your first apartment. They also include information about rent, late fees, move-in fees, and move-out fees.

In addition, they may detail fees that you’ll have to pay if you break the lease or leave early.

For example:

If you sign a 12-month lease and move out after six months, you could be forced to pay the additional six months of rent.

Ultimately, knowing what to look for in a rental contract can save you a lot of potential headaches!

4 Ask Questions

When you do an apartment tour, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the landlord or property manager. This is the time to ask questions. Learn everything you can about the property before you fill out the application.

If you have a pet, ask if it’s a pet-friendly apartment. If you have a car, ask if there is free parking (or accessible parking).

Ask if utilities are included. Also, ask about extra charges such as doorman’s fees or fees to use the laundry facilities.

Don’t be shy about asking questions. If the landlord or property manager is not forthcoming with the info, they probably won’t be very helpful if you become a tenant. 

 5 Check for Damages

Once you sign a lease and get the keys, you’ll be responsible for any damages to the property. So before you sign a contract, do a thorough walkthrough and look for damages.

If you find any stains, holes, or broken appliances, request to have them fixed before you move in. At the very least, you need to document the damage (with photos or video) so that you aren’t charged for it when you move out.

Look for things like ripped carpets, broken blinds, and scratched floors. Check to make sure that all shelves and closet bards are in place. Make sure there are no broken tiles or broken handles on cabinet doors.

Be thorough. Otherwise, your landlord will assume it was your fault and deduct the repair costs from your security deposit.

6 Get Renter’s Insurance

Don’t overlook the importance of renter’s insurance. It costs an average of $17 per month for a policy that offers $40,000 in coverage for personal property and $100,000 in liability.

In case of fire damage, water damage, or another emergency, you’ll need insurance to protect you and your property.

Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to get a lower monthly rate by bundling renter’s insurance with your car insurance.

7 Treat the Apartment as If It Were Your Own

As a renter, you have the luxury of not having to fix things when they go wrong. That’s the landlord’s job.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to damage things intentionally. If you do, you can be sure you’ll have to pay for it in the end.

Be respectful to your neighbors. You don’t have to be best friends, but having a courteous and respectful relationship makes for a much more comfortable living situation.

It’s also important to keep the place clean. If you don’t, you could be charged cleaning fees when you move out.

And, most importantly, alert your landlord or property manager immediately upon spotting an issue.

For example:

If you see a small leak, address it right away. Don’t wait for the problem to worsen. Remember, small issues are always cheaper to fix than major ones!

Now that you have this valuable info, you’re ready to start that apartment search!

Create your budget, tour places you can afford, and find a place you love. Just remember to ask questions, check for damages, and read your lease thoroughly before you move in!

Author bio:

Ryan Sundling

Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with The Union at Auburn on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.