Things You Should Know Before Renting an Apartment
If you can’t afford buying an apartment, your solution is probably to lease. Renting your first apartment can be complicated and intimidating. There are so many apartments available. Deals and specials can make the final decision even harder, though they sometimes offer significantly lower prices. Renting an apartment for the first time is a big step toward maturity. If you will be on your own, you will have to learn personal responsibility very quickly. You will learn how to take care of a household, pay bills on time and manage your time wisely. Living in your own apartment means that you will have to be cautious with your money and pay rent on time, or else suffer the consequences (eviction).
Budget. Before you even begin apartment hunting, be sure to do a detailed analysis of your budget to figure out how much rent you can afford. Look at bank records to estimate your living expenses, and don’t forget to take all your bills into account. Once you have recorded estimates for your monthly costs, add them all up and subtract from your monthly income after taxes.
Research the average cost of rentals in your area. Figure out how much you can afford to spend each month on housing. General rules dictate that your housing costs should be less than 33 percent of your income. Look at classified listings and apartment brochures in your area to get an idea of current rental prices. Save your money until you have at least two months worth of rent, because many apartment complexes require “first, last and security” meaning you pay the first and last months’ rent and a security deposit before moving in. It’s very important to know if the rent includes heating, water, electricity, cable or Internet connection but more important is to know what are the average utility bills in the building. Ask the landlord if you want to be make sure you won’t get crazy numbers on your bills.
Apartment Hunting. The Internet has made apartment hunting much more convenient, but try to consider real estate agencies who can help you with this, even if there is an extra cost. Bring a list of questions to ask the leasing agent. Make sure you understand the terms, payment, rules, amenities and other important issues. After you have visited your prospective apartments and made a final decision, you will sign your contract. Be sure you understand all the terms of your contract before you sign, to avoid unexpected expenses or unnecessary problems. Be sure you know when your rent is due, what utilities are included, whether pets are allowed, whether you can make any changes to your apartment (i.e., painting) and what the landlord’s policies are on late payments, broken contracts and any special rates you may have received. You should receive a copy of your contract. If you don’t, ask for one, then keep it somewhere safe. Read before you sign. Last thing and a very important if you want to enjoy privacy, keep away from a lease that gives the landlord unlimited access without notification. Tenants have their rights and a landlord should be permitted without notice only in case of emergencies.
You like the price, the area is great, but you need to see where you’re going to live. Here are a few things to take a closer look at:
Pipes – be it gas, water or anything else, check for leaks.
Sink faucets, shower heads and water – make sure water (both cold and hot) really comes out of the faucets and the shower head and its with a decent pressure. Also, the toilet has to flush properly and thoroughly.
Electricity and appliances should all be working. Check if all the lights or other electric devices are operational. Also check the air conditioner and the heater to see if they’re good for anything.
Walls and windows. Check the windows to see if they open, close and lock properly. Also inspect the walls. The more walls in common (shared with adjoining apartments), the greater the chance of noise from next door.
Noise. For a student, outside noise may be extremely disturbing and may interfere with learning. If it’s a highly trafficked area you may have problems concentrating and even sleeping.
These would be the first steps to consider when renting an apartment, but we will get more into details with the next two articles, when we discuss about the things I wish I knew, and the things I wish I asked first from my landlord before renting my first apartment.