8 Things to Know Before Renting an Apartment

Are you looking for an apartment to rent? Are you wondering what some of the most essential considerations before committing to an agreement with a landlord? Moving into a new apartment can be an exciting new chapter in your life. Whether it is your first apartment or your tenth rental, there are some things you need to do and understand before you commit to a lease.

While renting an apartment should be more relaxed and less stressful than buying a home, there are some potential issues you need to think about to avoid problems, let’s take a look.

Your Credit History

Having an excellent credit score is essential when buying a home, but it can also play a role when renting apartments too. You may be renting because your financial history isn’t the best, but some landlords will need to see you have a good credit score to accept you as a tenant.

For this reason, you would be wise to check your credit score before starting your renting apartment search. A score of around 700 and above, is typically considered reasonable. If you are in the early stages of thinking about renting an apartment, you may want to sign up with Credit Karma. Credit Karma is an excellent tool for getting your financial house in order whether you are renting an apartment or buying a home.

By using the site, you will get your credit report along with your credit score. The beauty of using a site like Credit Karma is that it will show you the many ways you can improve upon your credit score.

Paying Rent Doesn’t Contribute to Your Score

Landlords don’t normally give details to credit bureaus, so even if you pay on time every month, don’t expect to see an improvement to your credit score. Paying credit card bills or other loans on time each month will have a positive effect on your credit and should be something you consider if you want to improve your score.

Changing Rental Costs

The rent you have to pay for your new apartment isn’t fixed and will likely rise in the future. So, what may have seemed like a great value apartment initially, may not always stay that way.

Landlords usually are going to be keen to increase their earnings at your expense. This can happen after your one-year lease expires, providing an opportunity for the landlord to increase your monthly charges. You need to be ready for this, and not stretching your monthly finances to get the apartment in the first place is advisable.

Another way rent can increase is if the rent you pay is linked to your income. Sometimes the landlord will only check your income when you want to rent the apartment, but they could request this information every year and alter your rent accordingly. This can sometimes affect whether they consider that you still qualify for the residence as well.

Co-Signers and Joint Applications

Having someone co-sign on your lease can make it easier to get the apartment you want. Much like a lender does when co-signing a mortgage to buy a home, the landlord will take into consideration the credit scores of both people, and enable you to get an apartment you wouldn’t otherwise qualify for.

This can become a problem if the person you co-signed with wants to move out. They won’t be able to get their name removed from the lease agreement and will remain responsible for payments until the period is up. Then all of a sudden, you could find that you no longer qualify to live in the apartment when the lease ends. It is critical to make sure you fully trust that your roommate is going to keep up with their end of the bargain when going in on a rental together.

Insurance

You will still need insurance even though you are renting. The landlord will have insurance, but this will only cover the building and not your possessions. The premiums shouldn’t be too expensive, and they will protect you from losses due to theft or other damage. Going without content insurance on any property you rent is a significant mistake.

The Neighborhood

Before you commit to a new apartment, you should explore the neighborhood to make sure it is somewhere you want to live for at least the next year. You may think the property is perfect for you, but if the local area is unsafe at night, it will seriously affect your time in the home. You will probably also want to find out if all the modern conveniences are going to be at your disposal.

Is there a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts nearby? How about a grocery store, the bank you use, or enough restaurants to keep you satisfied? Don’t just focus on the apartment itself but the whole picture.

Trusting an Agent

Whether you are buying a home or finding an apartment to rent, it is helpful to have a real estate agent in your corner. A seasoned agent will be able to offer valuable guidance of not only the area in which you will be looking but also personal opinions on any drawbacks about the apartments you are considering.

In many areas of the country, the rental market is very tight, so a real estate agent can offer great assistance in searching for an apartment. Use these tips to get the most out of using a top local agent.

One other thing to keep in mind is that there are quite a few rental property scams you need to avoid. Most real estate agents will be in tune with these shady dealings.

Checking the Apartment

When you have found the property you want to live in, ask to have a final look around with the landlord. This will give you the opportunity to check everything is in working order and note any damage. If there is damage, take some photos of it so that you won’t be held responsible for it when your lease is up.

It is highly advisable to always fill out a property condition report before moving in. If you are working with a real estate agent, they will be able to help you with this task.

Your Lease Agreement

Before you sign anything, you should read it first, this is also true of your apartment lease. It isn’t going to be the most enthralling of reads, but you must understand your obligations and agree with all things in it. Don’t feel pressured to sign without reading through it first. If there is something, you don’t understand, it is advisable to speak with a local attorney for additional guidance.

The excitement of potentially moving into a great apartment could cloud your judgment. But you don’t want to find yourself trapped in an agreement which you will later regret. Understanding the rental process allows you to avoid the pitfalls, and makes sure you have a great experience in your new apartment. Following these and other rental property tips will put you in the best position to be a happy camper in your new apartment. Best of luck!

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