Renting an apartment for the first time is a rite of passage for many people. It’s one of the first major steps indicating you’ve reached adulthood. As a result, everyone remembers their first apartment.
To rent an apartment, you must look for available listings and apply. This is where many first-time renters run into trouble. They’ve often turned away for failing to meet the criteria. The other issue is they end up moving into an apartment that appears sufficient initially but soon reveals many problems.
Are you someone thinking of applying for an apartment for the first time? If so, an awareness of essential steps and practical action is critical. It could be the key to finding the apartment of your dreams and avoiding a total nightmare.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at six things to know before applying for an apartment.
Credit score matters
Most landlords and property management companies check your credit score before letting you sign a lease. Generally, they look for a minimum 620 credit score from prospective tenants. It lets them know you’re reliable in terms of paying rent on time and not falling behind.
However, luxury lofts and other high-end rentals tend to include stricter credit requirements. In cities like New York and Los Angeles – where the demand for affordable housing far exceeds the supply – landlords may require a good or even excellent credit score from prospective tenants.
Landlords and property managers want to know if you can afford to pay the rent each month. That means they will ask for proof of income, often in the form of paycheck stubs and bank statements. Generally speaking, they want tenants who earn at least three times the amount in rent.
For instance, if the rent is $900 a month, they want someone who earns at least $3000 each month before taxes. This is commonly referred to as the 30% rule. If you do not meet the credit or income requirements, you will need a co-signer.
Inspection is essential
First-time renters are often so preoccupied with meeting the minimal requirements that they forget to inspect the apartment thoroughly. Since you’ll be living there for several months, if not longer, you want to ensure everything is working correctly and that there are no hidden or potential problems.
- Do the faucets work?
- How about the electrical outlets?
- Do the windows open? Do they lock?
- What’s the heating and cooling situation like?
- Are there noisy neighbors upstairs or sound-sensitive tenants below?
The list goes on and on. Do not feel bad about taking your time poking around every corner of the apartment; this could be your home, so you want to make sure it’s a decent place to live.
Questions are crucial
Aspiring tenants should have a list of questions in mind when taking the initial tour. Don’t feel bad for putting someone on the spot; answering questions is part of the job of a landlord or property manager. It could be as simple as inquiring about the age of the building or the date of the last renovation. If they do not know the answer to a key question, insist on following up later. Take the time to consider every factor you can think of and if there is an unknown variable involved, turn that curiosity into a question.
Landlords expect the first and last month’s rent
Anyone who’s ever rented an apartment before already knows this, but first-time renters are often surprised to learn they must have two months’ worth of rent ready to send. Landlords and property managers do this to prevent losing money in the event someone breaks their lease and moves out.
It’s also a way for them to cover the cost of fixing any damage you caused while living there. While it’s possible to get this money back when you move out, the inevitable wear and tear caused by tenants is often enough legal justification for them to keep it. With this in mind, it’s best to assume you’ll never get it back. That way, if you do, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Pet deposits are common
Do you have a dog or cat? If so, you will likely need to pay a pet deposit on top of the first and last months’ rent. How much you’ll be expected to pay will vary from one landlord or property management company to another. The size and breed may also play a role. With this in mind, pet owners should have a few hundred dollars set aside for a pet deposit. Fortunately, if your furry friend doesn’t cause any damage, you’ll get this deposit back when you move out.
Renting your first apartment is an exciting prospect. But it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll be expected to prove you have what it takes to be a reliable tenant. You’ll also want to do your due diligence to determine if a specific apartment is sufficient or not. But once all that’s over, you end up with a space to call your own and make your home.