Renting your first apartment can be exciting and frustrating. You have worked all summer saving your money, you and your friend have decided to move in together. Now you just need to find a place. It is that simple right? Here are some things you need to consider that most people don’t tell you about:
What can you afford?
Before you start looking for an apartment you need to sit down and figure out your budget. What can you afford? Roommates help with splitting expenses, but roommates move out, can you afford an apartment on your own? You also want to factor in utilities – Electricity, trash, gas, water, and sewer. Some utilities are included when you rent an apartment and some are not. Most often Internet and Cable are not. You need to consider Deposits also. A deposit is usually a sizable amount that the property owner or property manager hold in trust for you until you move out. It is used to cover any damages you may cause to the unit. The utility companies are going to want deposits also to establish new accounts with them. Usually, after a year of good solid payments, they flush these deposits back to you through your account.
Most places you apply for are going to require rental references and good credit. Since this is the first time you have rented you may lack references and you probably have not started establishing any credit history either. Therefore, you may want to line up a possible co-signer for the apartment. Keep in mind, this person is doing you a huge favor, they are putting themselves on the line saying you will care for the apartment and pay your rent. If you fail to do so, you will injure the co-signer as well as yourself.
Property owners and Property managers are also going to want to see at least 6 months to a year of job history. They like to see stability and responsibility. They want to know you can pay your bills. You can also provide copy’s of bank statements showing you have money put aside for emergencies or to cover the rent if a roommate moves out.
What type of lease terms are you willing to commit to? Month to Month, 6 months, a year lease? Being that this is your first apartment you may want to look for a month to month. Which basically means that if something goes wrong, you and your roommate are clashing, you lose your job, you can simply provide the property owner or property management with a 30 day notice in writing and move out of the apartment and your financial obligation to them ends, of course you want to remember to close all your utility accounts and provide forwarding address but that is a whole different blog.
Once you have found your apartment, you have agreed to all the terms of the rental agreement, paid all your deposits and you are ready to move in. Take some time to walk through the apartment while it is vacant, take pictures, take notes of the condition of the property, keep a copy for your records and provide a copy to the property owner or property manager. You are setting the foundation for when you move out and the return of your deposit. (To read more on the return of your security deposit /2015/06/12/return-of-security-deposit/)
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