Renting your first apartment is a rite of passage for many people. While it’s an exciting step, it can also be a little bit scary. After all, you’ll need to navigate long-term contracts, ensure you can afford the monthly expense, and find a place where you’ll love living.
Luckily, if you know a few simple rules about monthly rentals, you’ll be able to handle your first time like a pro. Start with these important tips.
1. Understand Your Total Costs
Obviously, you need to make sure you can afford your rent, but it’s also important to understand there may be other costs as well. Monthly rentals sometimes include utility costs, but not always. There may also be an additional fee for amenities. It’s a good idea to ask your landlord about these costs and make sure you can easily afford the monthly total.
You’ll likely also need to put down a security deposit and pay your first and last month’s rent ahead of time. Since this is often a fairly large sum, you’ll want to get all the details before you sign your lease.
2. Read Your Lease Carefully
This brings us to the next tip — always read your lease carefully! Watch out for important points like whether you can sublet, if you’re allowed to have a roommate, and whether your lease will automatically renew.
Unfortunately, some landlords may make promises or say things that don’t match what’s written in the lease. However, when a problem comes up, everything will refer back to that written document. If you don’t understand something, make sure you ask for clarification and don’t sign the document until you feel comfortable.
3. Don’t Skip Your Initial Inspection
You should definitely have a chance to inspect your monthly rental before you move in. With all the stress of packing and moving, it can be tempting to blow this off, but that would be a mistake! If the apartment has damage – like scratched floors or dented appliances – the landlord will likely assume you did it. In this case, you could be charged for repairs or lose your security deposit.
Protect yourself from future headaches by going to the inspection. If you notice any problems, take pictures and notify your landlord or property manager in writing right away.
4. Know Where You Can Compromise (And Where You Can’t!)
When you start exploring monthly rentals, it’s important to understand which features are non-negotiable. It’s unlikely you’ll find an apartment that has everything you want, so you’ll likely need to compromise. If you end up with laminate floors instead of hardwood or white appliances instead of stainless steel, it’s probably not the end of the world. However, if you compromise on the important things, you won’t be happy.
For example, you probably don’t want to rent a “perfect” apartment that’s an hour away from your job. If you have a dog, you’ll need a pet-friendly apartment, and if you have kids, the school district probably matters. Stick to your guns on the important things, but be willing to keep an open mind when it comes to the little details.
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