How To Find The Perfect Apartment To Rent – 10 Step Process

Whether you’re a young adult about to live on your own for the first time, or you’re going from mortgage to monthly rent in a new neighbourhood, you need to be prepared before you begin your apartment search. Finding the right place at the right price is no easy task, but it doesn’t have to be too overwhelming. Once you’ve figured out what you can afford, all you need to do is find the right apartment, agree to the terms of the lease, and then sign on the dotted line.

To find a perfect apartment or rental home and make your search easier, there are a number of steps you can take to ease the burden and speed up the process.

Tips for finding a new home to rent

1. Determine affordability

The US Census Bureau suggests that your monthly rent should not exceed 20% of your monthly income, a maximum of 30%. For example, if you bring home $ 4,000 each month, you should limit your search to around $ 1,200. Taking the time to update and fine-tune your personal budget before you start looking for apartments can not only help you determine your price range, but also identify areas of your personal finances where you can cut back if you want to spend. more for an apartment. more expensive apartment. After looking at the numbers, you may decide to eliminate that expensive TV subscription to allow yourself more leeway in your budget for the right location.

Create your budget with a simple spreadsheet or an online service like Mint or PearBudget. Itemise your income and expenses down to the last penny, from fixed obligations like phone bills, student loans, and car payments, to variable monthly costs like groceries, entertainment, and clothing. You can lower your food bills by cutting coupons and save money on your cable, smartphone, and internet by consolidating all three services under one provider. These small moves can really add up and give you the funds you need for your future home.

2. Lower rental costs

There are several things you can do to find a lower monthly rent:

3. Add tenant insurance

For some, tenant insurance is an option, but for the vast majority, it is required by the landlord. Either way, you need to add it to your budget. It covers losses in the event of theft, and also helps cover your landlord if you damage the property. A landlord insures the building, but tenant insurance covers what is actually inside.

Fortunately, it is quite affordable. Rates depend on location, amount of coverage, and amount of rent paid, but on average, you can expect to pay around $ 500 per year with $ 25,000 coverage, or about $ 12 to $ 15 per year. month.

4. Perform a credit check

Many landlords perform credit checks to see if there are any obvious issues with potential tenants, such as unpaid bills or bankruptcy. You can also expect a background check. While homeowners do these checks before they approve you, it’s actually a good idea to request your own free credit report yourself. This way you can check for potential obstacles and dispute any bugs you might find.

The FTC requires that the three credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) provide a free credit report each year. It’s free for you and won’t affect your score if you request it, but it takes about three weeks to receive the report.

5. Start hunting

Don’t leave your apartment search to the last minute. In a perfect world, this should start about three months before your “move in” date. Many current tenants must notify their landlords of vacant units in advance; most areas require tenants to give at least 30 days notice, but many provide more.

While the features you want in an apartment are specific to you and your lifestyle, there are several basic things to look for:

6. Collect your deposit

Many landlords require a down payment, which usually includes the first and last month’s rent, as well as a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. So if you’re spending more than $ 800 a month on new housing, you need $ 2,400 ready to go when you actually sign your lease. The landlord obviously withholds your first and last month’s rent, but your security deposit is usually refunded if you leave the property as you found it. Otherwise, it can be applied to maintenance, repair and cleaning.

While you don’t need to pay the landlord a security deposit until you sign the lease, it’s still a good idea to have the amount saved in your bank account. That way, you won’t lose a potentially perfect apartment to a better prepared tenant just because you didn’t have the money.

7. Prepare documentation

Homeowners take substantial financial risk if they don’t carefully vet every candidate. Therefore, in addition to credit and background checks, some may require additional documentation. Gather the following documents and keep them before your research:

8. Talk to tenants

While you want to make a good impression on the owner, you also need the owner to make a good impression on you. The best way to find out if you really want to live in a certain property is to talk to current and past tenants. Overall, you want a courteous, reliable owner who takes care of maintenance issues quickly. Learn about tenant turnover, infrastructure issues, and complaint response times.

This is also a great time to learn about living expenses in the area, especially if you are moving to a new neighbourhood. Current tenants can give you insight into what they’re spending on transportation, utilities, and entertainment, as well as neighbourhood information, such as where to eat, the location of specific school districts, and the best. local amenities.

9. Take a walk

Do not sign this contract yet. Once everything has been checked and you are happy with the apartment, location and owner, you need to take one final round before signing on the dotted line. Since previous tenants may have caused damage or maintenance issues, you need to make sure that you are not responsible for issues that are not your fault.

Prepare and check the following:

  1. Turn on lights and faucets and flush the toilet throughout the apartment to make sure they are working properly.
  2. Check for rodent or insect infestations, especially in closets and storage areas. Chewing marks or feces are a major red flag.
  3. Take a cell phone charger with you and plug it into electrical outlets to make sure they all work.
  4. Check smoke detectors and look for fire safety equipment like a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  5. Open and close and lock and unlock doors and windows.
  6. Turn on all included devices to make sure they are working.
  7. Examine the floors and walls for any damage. Carpets, hardwood, linoleum, drywall and tiles should be inspected.
  8. Take photos of problem areas with a digital camera and show them to the owner. Keep the file so that if there are any maintenance discrepancies or problems recovering your security deposit when you move in, you have proof that you did not cause the damage.

10. Read and sign the lease

Leases vary depending on the length and conditions of the contract.

Regardless of the term, your lease includes things such as the amount of the security deposit and the terms under which the landlord holds the deposit, the terms of the rental, how to notify the landlord that you are vacating the property, and the behaviour and issues that could result in an eviction, such as delay or non-payment, destruction of property or anything else the owner deems unacceptable.

Although the price of a rental is not negotiable, the lease often is. Sometimes you can negotiate the cost of utilities or have a guarantor sign as a co-signer if your credit score isn’t perfect. You can also negotiate the price if you have to go out to find services, like laundry, or pay more for transportation. Depending on the convenience and location of the apartment, as well as the current state of the housing market, you might get a break if the landlord really needs to rent the space.

Last word

While renting might seem like a litmus test in adulthood, it’s actually a lesson in responsibility. By doing your homework and gathering the appropriate documentation beforehand, you’ll know exactly what you can afford and what to expect during the process. After good preparation, you should be able to get an apartment and spend more time thinking about furnishings, decorating and housewarming; in other words, fun stuff.

What additional things should you take into account before renting an apartment?

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