Looking for and finding the right apartment is hard work – and if it’s your first time renting, it can be an overwhelming experience if you don’t know what to look for. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a place of your own and knowing what to expect as a renter.
Credit and background check
As much as you may want to, you can’t run and you can’t hide from a background check. They’re just part of the normal routine landlords and property management companies undergo when deciding if someone is an eligible candidate.
Of course, from a renter’s perspective, this can be a vulnerable situation when it comes to handing over private information, such as social security numbers or account information to a stranger, and sometimes, certain credit check systems can even negatively impact a renter’s credit.
However, reputable credit check screening companies protect prospective tenants through a secure, online process, which generates screening reports delivered to the landlord, keeping personal information private and having no impact whatsoever on credit score – a major win for all parties!
Free listing sites for landlords are a great way to find local listings in your area. There’s always Craigslist as well – a classic option used by renters and landlords alike.
Both pre move-in and move-out you should expect your landlord or property management company to conduct an inspection on the property. Your landlord will likely take note of any existing deterioration, such as water damage, chipped paint or worn appliances, and it’s in your best interest to do so as well. Why? The last thing you want is to be held responsible for any damage that’s pre-existing.
The good news is there’s lots of amazing services out there that can help. Happyco, for example, is an app which uses data-capture technology so you can take itemized pictures with both a time-stamp and automatic caption. So if there’s ever any question surrounding damage you have a record to back you up!
The cost of rent can be deceptive
Because finding a place that checks all the right boxes can be so difficult, it’s tempting to just skip all the fine print and jump right to the “where do I sign?” Before making any final decisions it’s critical to understand what’s realistic for your budget. The advertised price often doesn’t reflect the security deposit that’s required, utilities not covered by the landlord, or any additional pet or service fees. Some landlords even require tenants to pay first and last month’s’ rent in addition to a security deposit. Bottom line is, it can add up fast. Make sure you know what you’re willing to spend!
You may love your new space, but your dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare if it’s located in a shady area. Do your research before making any final decisions. Visit your prospective neighborhood more than once and make sure to do so during different times of the day and night, and during both the week and weekend.
You may find that while the area seems sleepy during the week, it can be a party scene by the time the weekend rolls around. And don’t just settle for asking the property management company about your new hood. For one (especially when it comes to property management versus private ownership) the primary interest is getting vacancies filled, so they may be a little less than transparent when it comes to the less-than-rosy details of a neighborhood. Two, there’s certain quirks you can’t really know about a place unless you actually live there.
Introduce yourself to a few neighbors and get the local scoop, or consider visiting a few nearby coffee shop and retailers to get a feel for community. Ask questions! It’s better to know more than you need rather than be faced with unhappy surprises after move-in.
You need renter’s insurance
One great thing about renting is that when it comes to maintenance and upkeep you’re off the hook. However, it’s on you to protect your personal property. Your landlord’s insurance covers damage due to accidents, theft or inclement weather, but their property insurance doesn’t extend to your personal belongings.
Make sure you have protection in place as soon as you move in, or if possible, a few days before your move-in date – especially, since thefts often take place during a move when tenants are distracted with the chaos of transition. Most insurance companies also offer bundling options with other types of insurance, such a car and even life insurance so you can get all bases covered in one swoop.