6 Tips for Renting an Apartment
What you pay for your apartment and what you get depends on your negotiation and bargain-hunting skills. When you decide what you need in your rented space, explore all options. Read on for six straightforward steps to help you find an apartment at the best rate.
1. Use Real Estate Websites
Explore online realtor and real estate websites or apartment locator services. Potential renters can search for apartments based on size, number of bedrooms, location, added features, and monthly cost. Brokers and real estate agents that know the local market can be knowledgeable and helpful resources.
2. Evaluate Personal Finances
Don’t rent an apartment because it seems like a good deal according to someone else’s needs but not a good deal based on your needs. Limit your search to what you can afford and look for the best deals in the neighborhood you like that match your finances.
3. Be Prepared to Negotiate
Compare multiple rental communities and neighborhoods with the most features within your price range. Ask about specials, and you may be able to negotiate for one free month or a discounted rate based on how quickly you can sign the lease.
4. Know the Rent Before You Tour
Before you visit a property, get a quote on pricing. Sometimes a leasing agent hopes to wow new renters with features found in more expensive rentals. Compare the figures you received on the phone with the costs presented when you tour.
5. Tour Properties in Person
Virtual tours are found on most apartment rental websites but are no substitute for visiting a community in person. Websites will provide an idea of what the community and interior look like and should be used as an initial screening process. Walking around a new neighborhood and apartment will give you a better feel for the location.
6. Reevaluate Your Feature List
You probably developed a list of what features are important to you in your new home. Once you see the cost of the apartments with the features you want, see if your list can be adjusted.
Warning: Housing discrimination is illegal. If you think you’ve been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Do I Need Renters Insurance?
Renters’ insurance can cover you against theft, fire, or potential liabilities while renting your apartment.
What Costs Are Included in My Monthly Rent?
Sometimes landlords include electric, water, and heating cost in a monthly rent premium. Review your rental lease to discern what additional costs you will pay out of pocket each month.
How Much Money is Required When I Sign a Lease?
Landlords commonly require a first, last, and security deposit upon signing a lease. First denotes the first month’s rent. Last means the last month’s rent on the lease. This last payment upfront ensures the landlord will have some money should the renter break the lease terms and leave before the last month is paid. A security deposit covers any damage that may occur while the renter uses the apartment.
The Bottom Line
Renting an apartment involves research and negotiation. Using knowledgeable resources such as realtors and websites can help screen your choices. Be prepared to negotiate the price, features, and lease term. Once you decide on a new home, consider purchasing renters’ insurance to cover you against theft, fire, or potential liabilities.