Renting an apartment for the first time can be an exhilarating experience, but it can often be equally confusing. That said, doing some thorough research and keeping a handful of tips in mind when walking into a renter's office can give you the confidence you need to make it through the process knowing you made the right decision.
If you are thinking about striking out on your own for the first time, check out three tips below that will keep you from becoming overwhelmed:
Know Exactly What You're Paying For (and What You're Not)
First time apartment renters often make the mistake of only including monthly rent and initial deposits in their initial number crunching. But the truth is that by the time you sign your name on a renter's agreement, quite a few more costs will have to be included.
In addition to the two months rent and deposit that are required of most renters, there may be a non-refundable application fee, plus a finder's fee. And once you've settled in, you'll most likely be paying for at least a couple of utilities. Find out what utilities you'll be responsible for and how much the average utility bills are in the immediate area.
Get it in Writing
This might be the most common piece of advice given to first-time renters, but it bears repeating: get the answers to important questions in writing. This isn't because apartment rental companies or landlords are purposefully trying to deceive you; rather, things like deposit refunds, lease cancellation fees and move-out notices are often all too vaguely defined when they're discussed verbally and sealed with a handshake.
To keep your stay in your first apartment from becoming a huge headache, make sure that the lease agreement includes exactly what you can expect from your renter, and what they expect from you at every stage of your contract.
Document Damage Before You Move In
When conducting a walk-through of an apartment you are thinking about moving into, look carefully for any damage done by previous owners and document it thoroughly with pictures. Ideally, a landlord or rental company will have already dealt with such damage, but in the case that it's been accidentally overlooked, you need to have hard proof that the damage was not caused by you during your stay, and that you are therefore not liable for any costs associated in repairing it.