Signing a lease and getting the keys to your very first apartment rental is an incredibly exciting time, but also can be stressful if you are not familiar with the process. There is more to it than just having saved up enough money and having guaranteed employment. Also, there are certain things to keep in mind to while you are renting to ensure that you will get excellent references from your landlord when it is time for you to move again. Our guide below will make sure that you understand all aspects involved in securing an apartment rental and all the necessary ‘must knows’ involved in becoming a tenant.
Planning Your Budget
When you begin viewing apartments, you should have a solid understanding of your budget. It is recommended that your rent should be no more than 30% of your total income. You can work out a detailed budget sheet and take it with you when you view any apartment. This way, you can take note of the deposits, the monthly rent, and if the landlord pays for any of the utility bills. If the utilities aren’t included in the rent, then you should make estimates for how much these will be every month and include them as part of your budget. Also make sure that you factor in the amount for up-front deposits. You will probably be asked for a security deposit, so you will need to understand how much it is and when it is due. There may also be an additional deposit needed if you have a pet, or if you require a parking space or storage locker.
First Impressions Matter
The market for renting is very competitive, and the first impression you make on a prospective landlord is very important. The landlord will be looking for a tenant who will pay the rent on time, keep the property in good condition and be respectful of the other tenants. The impression you make on them will be one of the things that will help them decide if they want to rent their property to you.
Make sure that you arrive on time. If you are unsure about where you are meeting the landlord, look it up online, and leave earlier than you think you would need to. Dress appropriately, and avoid any clothing with tears, rips or controversial slogans. Introduce yourself, and if it feels appropriate, offer to shake the landlord’s hand. Make sure that you are prepared to ask all of your questions about the property, the rent and anything else that comes to find while you are touring the unit. You should be organized and bring your important documents with you – this includes your references and credit reports. Remember to always thank the landlord before leaving and if you are interested in the unit, request a rental application.
Renting with Poor Credit or No Credit
If you have a poor credit history or no credit history, then you might be nervous about your chances of securing an apartment to rent. Most landlords will run a credit check or ask you to present a credit report before renting you the apartment. A good rule of thumb is to have your credit report ready to go prior to visiting any rentals in person or applying online.
There are some other things you should do to show the landlord that your credit history will not affect your ability to pay your rent. First, you should be prepared with documentation that shows your income and the dates of your employment. You should also have a reference from a work contact. Secondly, you should bring documentation of two bank accounts - your checking account, and your savings account to show that you have a minimum of three months rent saved. It helps to also include references from two other people, such as your teachers, friends, mentors or neighbours. If there is someone who is willing to co-sign on the property with you, then you should bring them with you to the apartment viewing. If possible, have a co-sign agreement already prepared, so that all that needs to be done is that it gets signed and dated if the landlord is willing to accept.
Understanding the Terms and Conditions of your Lease
Once you have found your perfect new apartment and it meets your criteria, you are ready to sign the lease! The lease should have your name as the tenant, and the landlord's name. It will also describe the property, and set out what appliances are included with the apartment. This will also tell you what common areas and duties that the landlord is responsible for maintaining. It will contain details of the rent, the deposits, and the renewal process. The lease will set out the duration of the lease, meaning it will tell you how long you are agreeing to be responsible for the apartment for. It will describe the rules and regulations of the property, and who is responsible for the various utility bills and fees. If you don’t understand the lease or its contents, you can ask the landlord, or have a lawyer go over it for you.
What is Renters Insurance?
Some people consider Renters Insurance to be an unnecessary expense. However, in most cases, any property insurance that the landlord has taken out will not cover damage to the tenant's personal belongings. Renters Insurance will cover your possessions, and it also provides liability coverage if any visitors are injured while in your apartment.
Moving into your new apartment is very exciting, and you will probably want to get in and settled as quickly as possible. Before moving day, you should pay the security deposits, and ask for a receipt. You should also visit the property with the landlord for a condition inspection. After the walk through, a condition inspection report should be issued which will detail the condition that the apartment is in before you move in. Once you and the landlord have agreed on the starting condition of the property, you can collect your keys and move into your unit.
Managing Your Money
Once you have moved in, you will need to make sure that you manage your money, and that you pay the rent on time. Many landlords have late rent fees, which usually start once the rent is several days late. Make a monthly budget of all your expenses and stick to it. You will need to include your rent, your utilities, food bills, savings, and any other recurring monthly costs.
Moving into your first apartment is exciting and rewarding experience, but you need to make sure that the apartment is suitable for your needs. You should consider the location, and what your individual priorities and ‘must-have’ items are. Once you have found the right property, and have gone through all the necessary steps to sign your lease, you can get ready to enjoy living in your new space.