What to Expect When Renting an Apartment

by Mandi Rogier ; Updated July 27, 2017

Renting an apartment is a big decision. This step will take extra consideration if this is the first time you are living on your own. New renters need to understand all the ins and outs of the rental process, and even families with a long history of apartment living can benefit from a better understanding of what is involved in renting an apartment.

Size

There are several options when it comes to renting an apartment, and you should be prepared to consider a variety of factors when searching for the best home. First, you should consider how much space you will need. One of the first questions that any landlord will ask is how many bedrooms you are looking for. If you are living alone, you may not need any bedrooms at all and can instead opt for a studio apartment. This can be very cost effective and cozy if space is not a major concern. If you have a larger family, you will need to seriously consider how many bedrooms you need to live comfortably. If you want to have a den, playroom, or home office, you might want to consider using an extra bedroom for this purpose. Next, consider how many bathrooms you will need. If you opt for a smaller apartment, you may also need to consider storage for any possessions that won't fit in your new abode. Some apartments offer garages or other storage. You should plan to look at a model of any apartment you are seriously considering. Look for closets and cabinets if you need a lot of storage, and consider the layout and how it will work with your furniture.

Time Frame

With most apartments, you should expect to sign a one-year lease. Some places will also offer shorter leases, but you should expect to pay more in monthly rent for this convenience. You should consider carefully how long you plan to stay in your current living arrangement. Before signing the lease, make sure that you understand the length of the lease, as well as penalties if you terminate the lease early. In many cases, you can be held responsible for paying till the end of the lease if another occupant is not found. After signing your lease, you should budget accordingly to have your full rent payment ready at the beginning of the month. Some apartment complexes have a short grace period and will allow you to pay rent with no penalty until the third or fifth of the month. After this period, you should except to face a late fee.

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Features

When you're looking at different apartments, expect a wide variety in the amenities and features available at various locations. Some features to look for are washer/dryer hookups, a washer and dryer in the apartment, or a laundry facility onsite. Many apartments have a dishwasher and microwave available in the kitchen. A breakfast bar is another nice feature, especially if you don't have a dining table and would rather pull up a couple of stools. Carpeting, tile, and wood flooring are features you should consider. Another common feature is a porch or patio. Some apartments even have a small fenced in yard. If you have a yard, make sure you understand how much lawn care you will be responsible for.

Significance

Renting an apartment is a big decision. You should be prepared to fill out an application and provide proof of identity, including a social security card in some locations. Your application will probably include a fee. The apartment complex will review your credit history and monthly income when deciding if you will be approved. Upon approval, you will need to pay a deposit, often equal to one month's rent. In addition, some landlords ask for the first and last month's rent before you move in. If you have a pet, you will probably have to pay an additional pet fee either upfront, monthly, or both. Seriously consider the amount of rent you are committing to. If you are unable to pay this amount on time each month, you can face serious consequences, including eviction and legal action.

Considerations

Before you rent an apartment, make sure that you are selecting the right home for you and your family. You may want to consider a roommate or two if you are living alone. If you have a big family, look into renting a duplex, townhouse, or even a house if you need the extra room to be comfortable. You will need to determine what factors are most important to you and look for an apartment that meets your most important requirements first. For some this will be affordable rent. For others, it may be a safe neighborhood or large living space. Make sure that you have a good understanding of the complex, the individual apartment, and the lease agreement before you make a commitment.

About the Author

Mandi Rogier is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics. As a previous employee of Walt Disney World, she enjoys writing travel articles that make use of her extensive knowledge of Orlando theme parks.

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