Beginner’s Guide to Renting an Apartment

Renting an apartment for the first time is incredibly exciting, but the process can be long and complicated. If you’re struggling to understand what it is you’re going to need to apply for an apartment or are asking yourself, ‘How does a rental application work?’ then we have got you covered.

This article will look at a few of the key steps and considerations you will need to make when beginning the process of renting your first apartment. Take a look now to learn more about renting.

Determine a Budget

The first thing you’re going to need to do when beginning your apartment search is to determine your budget. This will need to include the monthly rental amount you can afford, along with any bills you will need to pay and a security deposit. You should also include a budget for rental application fees. The amount you will pay in application fees is dependent upon your state regulations.

Choose a Neighborhood

Next, you will need to look at where you’re planning on living. If you’re looking in a big city like New York, you will want to work out an approximate location of where you would like to live within the city. This will narrow down the search.

To find out which neighborhoods will suit you best, you can search websites like Area Vibes, look at online forums, and speak with friends who already live in the city or town where you will be living.

You should consider things like the local amenities, your proximity to friends and work, and transport links in the area.

Decide on Living Arrangements

You may consider living with roommates. In big cities, having a roommate can make paying rent easier, and it can offer you companionship in your home. You should also consider things like parking if you own a vehicle. Some cities may require permits, whereas others may have very little parking access at all.

You should also consider the type of apartment you want. Do you want to live on a lower level floor or higher up? How many bedrooms do you want and need? Do you want to live in a new apartment complex or an older building?

Get Your Documents Ready

When it comes time to apply, you will find out quite how many documents you’re going to need to submit an application. You will need the following documents ready and available.

  • Personal information, including name, DOB, address, and government-issued photo ID
  • Letters of reference
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of income and letter of employment
  • Proof of past residences
  • Proof of renter’s insurance
  • Financial documentation
  • Vehicle information

This list is non-exhaustive, and different buildings, apartments, landlords, and states may require you to provide different information to rent an apartment. Be sure to have financial information and personal documentation ready before applying so that nothing delays the process.

You will also need to be approved for rent, so a credit history and criminal background check will also be carried out. You will need to consent to these checks.

If you have a poor credit score, you may find that you require a cosigner for your lease or that the landlord asks for a larger security deposit to cover the risk.

If you are rejected upon application, don’t hesitate to ask why. Some landlords may not tell you, but others may offer feedback that supports your next application.

Give Yourself Time to Search Properly

Don’t begin looking for an apartment the minute before you are due to leave your current residence if you can help it. Give yourself the time to do it properly.

You should also consider the best seasons to hunt for an apartment. Typically, lower rental rates are between April and October, particularly around the holidays in December. This means there is likely less available. However, it could mean you’re more likely to get a bargain if you don’t mind a longer search.

Most properties become available in the summer months when students move cities and people want to move as the weather is warmer. There will be a lot more available, but you might have to contend with steep competition and higher prices.

View Multiple Listings

Always keep your options open and look at multiple listings before making your decisions. Don’t ever feel pressure to apply after only one apartment, and ensure you know what is out there.

As a first-time renter, you are unlikely to know exactly what you want when it comes to a rental property, and looking at multiple apartments will give a sense of what is on offer and where you may need to compromise.

Take a Friend With You

Last of all, take a companion with you when you visit apartments. It can help to have another pair of eyes on the place and can ensure that you’re not pressured to apply by the letting agent.

Taking someone with you who has experience renting will also be useful, as they will be able to ask questions based on their own experience of renting.

Final Thoughts

As a first-time renter, there is a lot to think about. Where you live can impact your quality of life, so you will want to find a place that suits your needs and makes you feel safe. We have covered a few key tips on what to consider and what to expect when renting.


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