Before you decide to rent an apartment, it is a good idea to create a checklist of things to do. Check out our “smart” checklist below.
1. Set Your Budget… And Stick To It
First thing’s first, decide how much you can afford to pay on rent. Starting with a budget will help you narrow your search down to locations that fit into your budget and lifestyle.
2. Decide On Bedrooms and Layout
You’ll also need to decide on the layout that suits your lifestyle best. First, decide if you want a studio, one-bedroom, two, or even three bedrooms. Then, decide on the number of bathrooms you need. Finally, consider picking a floor plan that works for you.
3. Research Neighborhoods
Now you are ready to pick a geographic area you want to live in and do research on the neighborhoods that lie within that area. Consider the following criteria when making your final decision: proximity to your place of employment, schools, shopping centers, highways, gyms, friends/family, and other places that are important for your lifestyle.
4. Create a List of Apartments
Once you figure out the area you want to live in, search for apartments on apartment listing websites and by doing a direct search on major search engines for ‘apartments in <insert neighborhood> that are important.
5. Tour the Apartments
Arrange a tour of the apartments that you are most interested in. Compare the apartments based on value, affordability, and location/lifestyle.
6. Find Out What Comes With The Apartment And What Doesn’t
Some apartments come with some in-built appliances and furniture. Determine what appliances are a “must-have”, and which appliances you may prefer, but are willing to do without if the apartment meets most of your other needs. For example, are you okay with not having a private washer and dryer? Do you have your own microwave oven? Are you really into cooking, and have to have a gas oven versus an electric oven?
7. Make sure the Apartment meets your needs
Now is a good time to double-check the apartment meets your needs. For example, does it have enough space? Does it allow pets (if you have a pet)? Does it have enough parking? Is the apartment near public transportation (train stops, bus stops)? Is it easy to get to major highways? Is it built with good sound control in mind? Do they have reliable maintenance?
8. Find Out About All Final Costs and Major Responsibilities
Confirm you understand all the costs and other major responsibilities. In addition to rent, what else are you obligated to pay for, how much, and how often? What is the security deposit? When are all payments due? Other than financial obligations, find out major obligations such as how much notice do you have to give should you not renew your lease? What is the penalty for a breach of lease? What are the noise regulations? Consider these Apartment Safety Questions and other questions to ask before signing.
9. Read The Lease
Now that you understand the big questions and the apartment meets your needs, get the lease and make sure you read the lease thoroughly before signing any agreement. Does it have all the information you agreed to with the landlord? Are there any hidden costs and clauses? A lease is legally binding so make sure you understand everything.
10. Inspect The Apartment For Any Issues
Before moving in, inspect the apartment thoroughly. Are there any underlying repair or maintenance issues that need immediate fixes? Are there any pest issues that need the attention of the leasing agent? Is the apartment clean? Are there any unusual odors? Does the apartment come with a deadbolt security lock? Was the apartment lock changed between residents? Has the apartment been redecorated (painted and prepared)? Is the flooring damaged or in need of repair? Are there other damages or stains? If so, make sure to put them in writing and bring them to the attention of the leasing agent. Do all the power outlets work? Do all the lights have bulbs? Is there a smoke alarm? Find out how often it is checked? When was the last time the heating and air conditioning filter was changed? How often does management change the filters? Is there significant damage to the walls or ceilings?
Searching for apartments to rent can be daunting but use this guide to start and hopefully make the whole process heaps easier.
Last Updated: March 3, 2021