Everything You Need to Know About Renting an Apartment

December 12, 2019 / Posted in Finding a Home
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

Moving to a new home is exciting. However, the actual process of renting an apartment is not that much fun. Not only is it tiring, but it can be quite challenging and daunting, too. There might be all kinds of requirements that you need to meet to become an eligible renter.

woman holding apartment keys overlay
Start looking through the ads early to have enough time to find a place of your dreams.

You probably have so many questions running through your head, such as Can anyone rent apartments? How do you pay rent for apartments? Can I get a flat with a 500 credit mark? Worry no more because we are here to answer all these questions and tell you a bit more about flat rentals, lease and rental agreements, renters application and everything else you need to know to find the right place.


Start the Search for an Apartment to Rent at Least a Month in Advance

While you probably already have an idea of your ideal place, finding something that will fit that notion might be tricky. Thus, it’s of crucial importance that you start your search for a flat early enough before moving. For instance, larger apartments are particularly tricky to find, so if you are looking for one, take enough time to actually find it. Here are some steps you should keep in mind when you begin your search quest.

girl working on a laptop overlay
Start your search on time.

Step 1 – Do You Know What You Need in an Apartment and What Suits You Best?

Before you start your search for your future home, you need to know exactly what you want and need. Depending on whether you’re moving with kids or you’re single, determine how big or small a place you want – a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom flat? If you are moving for a job, consider how close your place needs to be to your work. Are there any grocery shops nearby? Can you afford it? Would you like to donate old appliances and find a place that comes with all the appliances you need? You are about to start a new life there, so be sure you have everything you need.

Step 2 – Determine How Much Money You Can Allocate for Rent

Consider your monthly income and calculate how much money you’re going to need to afford it and plan your budget wisely. Ideally, you shouldn’t spend more than a third of your income on rent. Keep in mind that you might be required to pay a security deposit and first rent right away, so you’ll need even more money at the start, and you would maybe need some kind of loans or savings if your income alone doesn’t cover for all of that. Thus, you should also take into consideration the cost of interstate moving as it will affect your budget, too.

Narrow Your Choice Down, Visit Potential Apartments and Get Answers to All Questions

When you first go through the ads, there will probably seem to be quite a few places for you, but don’t get your hopes up too soon. Once you go into more details on what each landlord in person has to offer and what you’re required to get the rental, the number of potential apartments will decrease. That’s good – it means you’re narrowing your choices down given the information and the terms you got and getting closer to what you really need. Once you’re left with a couple of apartments, schedule a visit and take that opportunity to ask the owner all the questions that you need to be answered, especially what you need to rent an apartment. You may even want to try and negotiate the terms. Here are some of the questions you should cover.

person working on a computer overlay
Get all the answers about renting an apartment before you go down that road.

Do You Need to Pay a Security Deposit?

One of the first questions to answer is whether you have to pay a security deposit. If you do have to pay for it, ask how much money it is and whether you’ll get it back if you leave the flat in excellent condition.

Check How Rent Is Paid – Do You Need to Pay in Cash or Credit Cards Are Acceptable?

Some renters have specific requirements about how you make the payment for the rent, whether it is a card, bank transfer, cash or any other method. Check whether you’re supposed to do so in cash, or your landlord is alright with cheques or credit cards. Paying with a credit card or via bank transfer might be much more convenient for you.

Are You Responsible for All Utilities?

Some landlords cover all utilities, some none, and some decide to include certain utilities in the rent and leave the rest to you as a renter to pay. This is very important information. Be sure you know precisely what your responsibilities are regarding utilities before you accept the offer and sign the lease. You have to count all of that in your monthly budget.

Is Subletting Allowed?

Not all landlords allow renters to sublet their flat. More precisely, most prohibit it, so even if it’s convenient for you to sublet the space while you’re absent for a month or two to make some extra money, or at least not to lose money, for instance, check the terms if you’re allowed to do it.

Are Pets Allowed?

If you’re relocating your pets, too, it is of crucial importance to check whether your furry friend is welcome. If you’re allowed to take your pet, ask if there are any size restrictions and whether you’re supposed to pay some extra money per month for your animal companion.

Are You Allowed to Make Alterations?

If you don’t like the color of the walls or you’d like to replace the counters, it would be best to ask for permission. Some landlords will allow you to make any alterations you want as long as you leave the apartment in the same condition as you found it, but some are more strict when it comes to even the small changes. This may even cost you your security deposit and more. You need to ask in person before you decide to authorize the agreement

Before Renting an Apartment, Make a Comparison and Choose the Best Offer

Before you hire packing services, you need to be sure you’ve found an apartment that fits all your requirements. Thus, it is advisable to take time to compare several apartments and weigh the pros and cons of choosing each of them to be sure you have made the best decision. Once you put your name on the dotted line, there’s no turning back. Pick the best offer to be happy in your new home, and don’t be afraid to go into every small detail and then you can start developing packing strategies for moving and start looking for boxes and packing supplies.

person signing a contract on a table overlay
Before you put your name on the dotted line on the application, be sure you’ve chosen the best possible offer.

Before Filling out the Rental Application, Check Your Own Credit History

Just like you want a good place and a decent landlord, your future landlord will want to be sure that you’re the right person to live in their flat and that you can afford it. Not anyone is an eligible applicant and passes the personal credit score. Know that some communities are rather strict about credit score requirements and credit history, they might even want to know if your income covers monthly expenses. Thus, it might be difficult to get a place with, say, a 500 credit score, but it’s still not impossible.

One of the most common solutions in this situation is to get a cosigner with better credit, and it is a good card to play. Positive references from old landlords can also help you a lot. Just do not forget that your landlord will check all the information about your credit history to be sure you’re an eligible applicant, so you might as well check it yourself and do what you can to make it better before applying for an apartment.

Don’t Forget to Check if Your Landlord is Paying Rental Tax

As it is transparent on your side, you should also learn if your landlord is paying taxes for the apartment too. If he can’t provide you with an answer to that question, chances are there is something shady going on. Landlords who don’t pay rental income tax usually skim on many other things, they could raise your rent at any time or neglect to keep the lease agreement on their part. Of course, you can always sue for that, but who needs to spend their money and time on that.

The Difference Between Rental and Lease Agreement

To make sure you know what you’re signing, you need to learn the difference between rental and lease agreement. The main thing that will help you distinguish between the two is that rental agreements are usually signed month-to-month, while lease agreement lasts for a longer period of time. Lease agreements are convenient if you find the best place that will get your money’s worth and you know you do not plan to leave it anytime soon. So, depending on how long you’re planning to stay in your chosen flat, make a deal with the landlord and sign what you find more convenient. Whatever kind of agreement you decide to confirm, verify all the terms.

One More Thing to Consider Is Renters Insurance

It is as simple as this when it comes to renters insurance – you need one. Whether you are leasing a house or a condo, it is never a bad idea to ensure your personal belongings. The owner of your condo may have the whole building insured, but your personal items are surely not in the policy. There are three categories that are the main concern in a renters insurance policy:

  • Personal Possessions. Ensure your belongings from break-ins, vandalism, theft, explosion, fire, natural disasters, etc.
  • Liability is insurance for the damage that you, your family or your pets cause to someone else’s belongings.
  • Additional Living Expenses cover for those scenarios like when your place gets damaged and you have to live elsewhere until it is in a livable condition again, if ever.

Get All the Necessary Information

Follow every step of this guide to find the right place and do everything right when renting your dream flat. Hire professional moving services to be able to focus on getting all the things you need for your first apartment. Let experts take care of auto transport and help you ship your stuff for you and make time to find your new home and get everything ready for moving in. You can get all the information and a free quote.

Get a guaranteed price

      Flat Price Moving & Auto Shipping

      © Copyright 2023 © 2021. Flat Price Autotransport. All Rights Reserved.
      Download Moving Checklist
      Get a Free Estimate 888-647-0024