If you’re thinking about moving out for the first time, you’re probably wondering: “What do you need to rent an apartment ?” The answer is a little more complicated than you’d like, but the good news is that we’ve gathered all the important things here in one place. Read on to find out more about everything you’ll need to rent your first home.
Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Rent an Apartment
Before you begin your apartment hunt, or at least before you choose your new home, there are two important questions you should make sure you ask yourself.
How much money can I set aside for an apartment?
It is absolutely crucial that you know exactly what your budget is before you choose a place. Be realistic and set an amount that you can stick to. Your rent and utilities should never exceed 50% of your monthly earnings, and depending on where you’re moving to, they should be significantly lower than that. If you’re not sure how to set a budget, consider consulting a professional.
What am I looking for?
The other question you should ask yourself is what kind of apartment you want. Should it be furnished, half-furnished, or completely empty? Would you mind living on a higher floor if there’s no elevator? Do you want a garage? How many rooms should it have? Can I move in with pets? Is smoking allowed? Rank all your preferences by importance and be ready to make some compromises. The chances are, you won’t find a place that meets all your requirements and expectations.
Security and Credit Check, References, and Other Application Criteria
Once you’ve chosen a place that fits your needs and your budget, you should apply to rent it. However, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get to live there. There are certain criteria that rental property managers and landlords have when deciding whether someone would be a good tenant, such as your credit score or references.
The Best Offers Aren’t Always the Highest Offers
While it’s redundant to say that the amount of money you offer plays an important role for landlords, it is far from the only deciding factor. Even if you’re unable to offer as much as someone else would, you might still get to sign the lease agreement based on a good credit score or a background check.
Proof of Stable Income
One of the things all landlords will surely ask you to provide is proof of income. This will show your potential landlord that you earn enough money to be able to pay rent every month on time. They’re looking for someone they can count on with the monthly payment and who won’t push the deadline every time.
Sign an Agreement for a Background Check
You will also most likely be required to sign a paper stating you agree to a background check. For the most part, this includes your criminal records, so make sure you are completely honest with your potential landlord.
A good credit score proves to landlords and property managers that you always make your payments on time. Check your credit score in advance – perhaps even before you start your apartment hunt – and take steps to improve it if it’s too low. Keep in mind that improving bad credit takes time.
Upon filling out the application form and submitting supporting documentation, you will also be asked to pay the rental application fee. Depending on where you’re moving to, the amount will vary between $20 and $100. However, some states have very lax laws regarding this part of the renting process, which gives landlords space to ask for a lot more. Keep in mind that these fees aren’t refundable, so don’t pay more than you can afford to. The purpose of the fee is to cover the expenses of your credit check and background check.
Sometimes, a rental application fee will be accompanied by a processing fee. This one is refundable in case the landlord decides to go for another applicant. However, if all these fees start adding up to too much, don’t hesitate to ask for a detailed rental application receipt.
In general, there is nothing really stopping the landlord from deciding not to choose an applicant simply because they don’t like them. In other words, if you and your potential landlord don’t really hit it off, don’t be too surprised if you don’t get a call back.
Important Terms to Know
While dealing with all the paperwork, you will likely come across some vague terminology. To help you decipher it all, we’ve put together this handy list:
- Amenities. These include all the useful facilities located in the vicinity of the rental property. For example, pools, golf courses, schools, grocery stores, banks, and post offices could all be considered amenities.
- Deposit. This is the amount of money you will be asked to pay in advance to secure the apartment until you move in. Usually, the payment is due upon signing the lease agreement.
- Lease agreement. A lease agreement is a legal contract between a tenant and a landlord or property manager.
- Leasing agent. Some apartment buildings have their own lease agents who show prospective tenants the rental property instead of landlords.
- Section 8 housing. Homes that belong to section 8 housing are reserved for low-income families and individuals who can’t afford market-price rental properties.
- Utilities. Utilities include services necessary for normal everyday life, such as electricity, water, sewer, gas, and so on. Sometimes, the cost of utilities is included in the rental price, other times it isn’t. Make sure you ask your landlord before signing the lease agreement.
If you went through every step of the renting process and are ready to move into your new place, the last thing you have to do is transport your belongings. Useful advice here is to hire professional movers with reliable moving services and efficient packing solutions. A relocation company can also help you with shipping your car and storing your possessions for a while if necessary. When you choose your mover, contact them and ask for a free price estimate.