Finding an apartment or home to rent can be a very intimidating task. To help make your move a little easier here a few important things to consider.
1. Know Your needs
Are you single? Do you have family members that visit? Do you have 3 children and 2dogs 1 cat and a goldfish? Do you have furniture, plan on buying furniture, or are you renting something furnished? Keeping this information in mind can help you determine what type of rental you need. Some apartments have limits on how many persons they will allow, or they have restrictions when it comes to children or pets. It is very important to think about the size and needs of your family before you start your search.
Note: Some people confuse needs with wants. Depending on whether or not you have the following steps and the urgency some of your wants can be put off for a later date whereas your needs should be considered each step of the way.
2. Know Your Budget:
Many of us start looking for our dream apartment without first considering this very important step. When this happens we are left exhausted and stressed out because we viewed apartment after apartment, and sometimes filled out applications only to find out we were just chasing the wind. Having a clear budget in mind allows you to focus. This saves you time and energy and makes your apartment search less tedious.
Knowing your budget does not mean you can pay the rent. (Eg. Not because your monthly income is $2000 mean you can afford a $1500 - $2000 apartment). When determining your budget incorporate other expenses such as utilities not included in the rent, food, gas for your car, or bus fare, etc. Determining this will give you a realistic budget and once you find the apartment you’re looking for you can comfortably live.
3. Initial Deposit
Now that you know how much you can comfortably afford each month it’s time to look at the money you currently have or will need. Most landlords require their tenants to pay first and last month’s rent along with a security deposit. This normally comes as a shock to persons seeking a rental because although they can afford the monthly rent they did not save towards the initial deposit. Having this deposit available is necessary when searching. It saves you time and heartache. Yes, I said heartache. Imagine falling in love with an apartment after weeks of searching but because you don’t have the full deposit the landlord takes the “first come first serve” route. The Lesson, before you seriously start searching for an apartment make sure you’ve saved enough funds to complete the transaction.
Note: The security deposit is normally equivalent to one month’s rent but can be more or less depending on the landlord and the property you choose. This deposit will be returned at the end of your tenancy providing you have kept the apartment in good condition and followed the terms and condition in the lease agreement
4. Location Location Location
This step is also very important. You’ve found the apartment you love, you can afford it, it has exactly what you need, but is the location convenient for you? If you need public transportation to get around is the apartment near bus stops, convenience stores, children’s school, etc. If the apartment is in the wrong location you will likely find yourself wanting to move quicker than you intended.
Note: Depending on your needs, budget, and lifestyle the location can be compromised but definitely should not be overlooked.
5. Length of tenancy needed
Most landlords require their tenants to stay in the apartment for at least 1 year. If you need the apartment for a shorter time discuss with the landlord or their agent ahead of time. Do not sign a 1-year lease agreement just because you “like it” if you plan on leaving in 6 months. This will prevent you from having to pay a penalty.
6. The vetting process
With COVID-19 affecting everyone economically, landlords and their agents are cautious about who they put in the apartment. For this reason, they may ask questions and require certain documents. Job letters, previous landlord references, and character references are becoming more and more necessary to qualify as a tenant. It would be helpful to have these handy. Try to answer all questions honestly.
7. The Lease Agreement
Carefully read through the agreement and make sure you understand the terms and conditions in the agreement. Ask questions if you do not understand or if you disagree with something check with the landlord to see if it can be amended before signing. This will avoid potential issues in the future. The agreements should clearly state when your rent is expected, how it should be paid, and the penalties involve. It also explains the responsibility of both the landlord and the tenant. Make sure you know what happens if something breaks or stops working or if there are going to be regular inspections etc.
If the apartment is rented furnished carefully go through the inventory list with the landlord or agent “before” moving in.