Make sure your credit score is up to par:Check your credit score before applying for apartments at sites such as creditkarma.com and creditreport.com. If you have a low credit score, take these steps to improve your credit and make yourself a more well-rounded candidate to qualify for your ideal apartment.
Choose between a managed property and a landlord: Understand some of the benefits and drawbacks of renting from a professionally managed apartment complex and from an individual landlord.
Know your rights as a tenant: Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario- What happens if I need to break the lease? My landlord has not fixed the HVAC system and it is the dead of winter, what do I do? Understanding the law in your state is imperative!
Negotiate a good deal by knowing the market: Conduct market research by using online resources like Hotpads, Trulia, Zillow, etc. to learn more about what other properties are going for. How long has the property you are looking at been onthe market? What is the condition of the property? Is there a lot of interest in the property? The more information you can obtain, the greater your leverage will be in your rental negotiations.
Moving In: When you move in, make sure to inspect the property, write down any issues/repairs, and communicate in writing to landlord. Telling your landlord about problems immediately can protect you from liability when you move out.
Read the Lease: Make sure that you read the lease and understand all of the terms. A landlord may say one thing to you in person, but may say something else in the lease. Ultimately, the written agreement is what is enforceable in court, not a verbal agreement.
Get Renter's Insurance: If there is a fire or a flood or other damaging occurrence, remember this: The owner/management company is responsible for replacing walls, carpet, fixtures, etc. You are responsible for your personal belongings. If your plasma TV is destroyed by smoke from a fire in an upstairs apartment, you are responsible for it. Buying renter's insurance for $10-$20/month can save you a lot in case of an emergency.
Hope these tips help prepare you for your next rental living situation. If you have any questions, or need help locating an apartment that is within your budget, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!