Making the move into your first apartment can be an exciting experience. You’re on your own and can eat cookies for breakfast and chips in bed because no one is there to tell you otherwise. But as a first-time renter, there are some things to be aware of before you settle down in the apartment of your dreams.
Here are a few tips to avoid getting stuck:
1. Getting Through the Application
A first-time renter should expect to fill out an application for a potential apartment. This usually includes a background and credit check, and you will need to pay for the cost. Most application fees run between $30 and $50, depending on where you live. If you’ve found the perfect place to rent, it’s a good idea to fill out your application and pay the fees as soon as possible — even the same day. Many times, landlords will rent an apartment or house based on who turned in their application first.
If your credit score isn’t up to par, that’s OK. Most leasing agents allow renters to have a co-signer, who will sign the lease with you and is responsible if you don’t pay your rent for any reason.
2. Add in All of Your Costs
When you’re renting your first place, it’s important to know how much you can afford. That includes all of the additional costs that come with living on your own. In addition to the application fee, expect to put down a security deposit and sometimes the first and last month’s rent, which protects the landlord in case you damage the apartment or move out early.
Other costs to add to your apartment budget worksheet include:
- Utilities. Every lease is different, so you’ll have to check to see what is included in your agreement. Some contracts pay for water and trash, while others include electricity.
- Renter’s insurance. Many landlords require their tenants to have this coverage, and it also provides peace of mind. This protects your belongings in the case of a disaster such as a fire.
- Pet deposit. If your lease allows pets, most landlords require a pet deposit to cover any potential damage to the property. In some places, there is an extra fee each month in addition to the deposit, but you’ll need to budget for this if you’re bringing your four-legged companion with you.
3. Pay Attention to Your Lease
A lease may be the first legal document a first-time renter encounters. It’s important to read through it carefully so you know what to expect. If there’s anything you don’t understand, get someone else to look over it with you. Make sure the move in and move out dates are clearly specified, and make sure you understand any restrictions in your lease, such as noise, visitors, roommates, and pets. Your lease should outline everything you need to know before you move in, including any potential fees or consequences of breaking the lease.
4. Do a Walk-Through
Before you sign on the dotted line, do a thorough walk-through of your new apartment. Keep an eye out for damages or anything that doesn’t work — not just how you will lay out your new digs.
It’s in your best interest to take pictures and give a dated copy to your landlord so there’s no discretion when you move out and ask for your security deposit back.
5. Know Your Rights
Renters’ rights are different in every state, but it’s important for you to know what you’re responsible for versus what is your landlord’s obligation.
For example, if something breaks, usually the landlord is required to fix it. But how long do they have, and what will you do in the meantime if it’s a serious situation? Will you be reimbursed if you incur out-of-pocket expenses?
Knowing your rights ahead of time will give you an advantage if something does go wrong.
First Time Renter
When you’re ready to find your first apartment, being prepared can help you land the perfect apartment.
For more information on renting in the Fort Wayne area, contact us today!