Apartment rental guide for first-timers
What You Need To Know Before Renting an Apartment
Stepping out on your own is exciting, but there are many pitfalls to avoid. At Gregg Shimanski Realty, Inc, we help the uninitiated with their first apartment rental. Here is a brief guide on what to expect and how to prepare.
Get Your Budget Under Control
First-time renters are often surprised by unexpected expenses. Beyond just the recurring monthly rent payment, there are other costs to budget for:
- Security Deposits – This is usually several hundred dollars that landlords hold onto while you are a resident. It protects their property against damages and unpaid expenses.
- An Extra Month’s Rent – Many landlords expect you to pay the first and last month rent before you move in.
- Utilities – Sometimes your utilities are included in the rent and sometimes they are not. Budget for these recurring expenses and save a few hundred dollars for fees to initiate services.
- Application Fees – This fee is charged to applicants for processing paperwork and performing background checks.
- Moving Expenses – If you already have furniture, moving it can be expensive. Renting a truck, paying for fuel, and hiring help cuts into a budget.
Many new renters do not have a clear idea of how much they can really afford. In general, try to keep your rent payment at 30 percent of your total income. Never agree to a rent payment that is more than half of what you make in a month. When this expense becomes too great, it damages your quality of life and makes it difficult to change circumstances.
Demonstrate Strong Character
Landlords rent to the most qualified applicant. Ideally, their criteria are objective, but there are subtle differences that can influence a decision in your favor.
- Be prepared with your documents at your initial meeting.
- Dress neatly and arrive in a clean vehicle.
- Arrive at an appointment promptly.
Without a rental history that demonstrates strong character, getting approved for a first apartment you really want can be challenging. Make a good impression.
Do Your Research and Be Prepared to Sign a Contract
Consider more than just the cost when searching for the right apartment rental in Madison WI. The location and amenities should fit your lifestyle. Is the apartment close to stores and local services? Are you willing to tolerate a commute? Does the apartment offer launder facilities? How will you dispose of garbage?
Leasing contracts are full of complex jargon. Understanding the terms is a skill that you should eventually master. For your first apartment rental, take your time and review any documents you are expected to sign thoroughly. Ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. Some common things to look for are:
- How many months long is the term of the lease?
- What is your responsibility for maintenance and repairs?
- What are the consequences for breaking the lease?
- Who is responsible for utilities and billing fees?
- Is there a dispute resolution agreement?
If you are going into your first rental with a roommate, be sure that it is someone you trust. You are responsible for the contract even if your roommate moves or fails to pay.
At Gregg Shimanski Realty, Inc, we want to help you find the perfect apartment. Browse through our listings, and fill out a free application. One of our agents will get started working for you right away.