When you are home hunting, prepare a rental search plan. Be sure to know in advance what you want in a home and what you can live without. Decide in advance what areas of the city you could consider living in and make a list of apartment buildings within that perimeter.
Be sure to consider how far and how convenient it will be for you to travel to your job or your school or your family and friends. Also, how far is the apartment from stores, banks, hospitals, Church (if you attend) etc. If you have a car, make sure that there is adequate and convenient parking space 24/7. If you don’t drive make sure that there is close by public transportation.
Narrow your apartment locating to the size of rental unit you need: studio apartment or one bedroom apartment or 2 BR apartment or, big house. Are you considering a furnished apartment or do you possible need a short term rental. If you are renting an apartment with a cat, dog, or other pet, you need to find out which apartments allow renting with pets and which do not. And, if they do allow pets, is there an additional security deposit required and if so, how much it is. Do you need an apartment complex with an exercise room or tennis courts or a pool or a recreation room, etc. or do you simply need and desire a nice clean and quiet pad.
Be realistic about what you can afford. This can vary depending on the income bracket, but be sure to be “real world” when budgeting additional apartment expenses such as heating and air conditioning and other utilities. If you fall short of affording the apartment of your choice, you might consider sharing an apartment with a roommate or roommates. Keep in mind that living with roommates can help you afford an upscale apartment or even, in some cases, luxury apartments, but it also has extreme restrictions to your privacy.
If you are familiar with the area and its neighbourhoods, that gives you a distinct advantage for your home search. If, however, you are relocating to a new city or are not particularly knowledgeable about the city, you may want to contact a real estate agent that works in the area where you would like to relocate.
Once you narrow your search for homes down to properties which suit your needs and desires. You must be well organized & well prepared for your visits to the properties. When inspecting the rental premises be on the alert for unsafe conditions, excessive noise from traffic or playgrounds or neighbours. Visit the apartment building at night as well as the daytime hours. This will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the total space you will be residing in.
When you find the property that meets your renting needs and desires, you must be ready to put your “best foot forward” when you meet the rental agent. This person may be the property manager or a renting agent. Be advised that you are going to be asked to provide proof that you are a reliable prospective tenant. You are most likely going to need references from previous landlords. You may also be required by the agent to show that you are gainfully employed and can afford the rent. Many landlords may require a credit report. If you are a first time renter and/or you have limited credit history you may be asked for references from family, friends, employer, professionals, etc.
You may be required to put up an additional security deposit or, even have a credit worthy person co-sign the apartment lease with you. Be sure to fill out a 100% truthful rental application and come to the interview with references, proof of employment, credit information and any other renting resources at the ready. They will present your history to the landlord for you, (make sure they are 100% truthful about it) and they can also be quite helpful and save you a lot of time. They can also advise you as to exactly what kinds of references and documents you might need to prove that you can be a responsible tenant.
Once you have located your “dream property”, or as close to your home as possible, now it is necessary to pay extremely close attention to the particulars of the rental agreement. The Lease Lease is a contract between you and the landlord. Once agreed upon and signed by the tenant and the landlord, the rental lease creates obligations and restrictions for both parties. The most obvious covenants of the lease are the length of the rental, (Six month lease, one year lease, two year lease, etc.) The amount of the security deposit, when the rent is due, who is responsible for what utilities. Also in that lease, however, are stipulations that can cover a great variety of landlord and tenant obligations and restrictions.
They can include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Maintenance of the apartment
* Care of the premises
* Governmental regulations
* Eminent Domain
* Nuisance and noise clauses
* Stipulations as to the circumstances whereby the landlord can enter the premises
* Use of Common Areas
* Keys and locks
* Loss or damage
* What the landlord may do if the rent is in arrears
* What the tenant can do to bring the rent current before any kind of action might be started
* Non performance or breach of the contract by the renter
* Renter’s penalties in the event of early termination
* Circumstances which might cause the tenant or the landlord to break the lease prior to the end of the term
* Heat and other utilities
* Removal of goods
* Surrender or Non-Surrender of the premises
* Waivers of various obligations
* Prohibited reprisals
* Garbage disposal
* And the list goes on and on and on.
Prospective tenants should read the lease thoroughly. Prospective renters should understand everything that is contained in that lease and make an informed decision to be 100% accepting of all the provisions for both the tenant and the landlord, that you are positive that you can live up to your end of the bargain and that you are comfortable with the provisions on the landlord’s end.
If you do not understand every single clause of the lease then do not sign it until you do understand it. If necessary and if possible, request assistance in interpreting the lease from a trusted source such as a knowledgeable friend or family member or employer or professional, or anyone else who can understand it and explain it to you. If necessary get legal advice. It can cost additional funds if you do not qualify for free legal assistance, but that additional cost might save you a ton of money and save you a ton of heartache and aggravation down the road.
If the apartment rental agreement cannot be amended to meet your needs and desires and comfort level then do not sign the lease and do not rent that property. The Lease agreement that you sign as a prospective tenant will not change once you become the actual tenant of that apartment.
Good luck in your property search and good luck in your new home.