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Tips For Renting Your First Apartment

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 | April 25, 2015

The time has finally come! You are moving out and ready to get your own place. Let’s not get crazy here, we are talking about renting, not buying. It’s an exciting time in your life, but it also can be a tricky, sometimes stressful process. We want to make the process a little bit easier on you. The more prepared you are, the smoother the transition, right?

Once you have found that perfect place for you - it is time to take a closer look at some aspects before you sign the dotted line.

How to inspect the property and what to look for

Inspect your potential new home before you sign any agreement. If there are things that concern you, make sure the landlord is aware. If anything appears unsafe, notify the landlord about problems, and get them fixed right away. It’s best to put your tenant repair requests in writing.

  • Check the electrical outlets, appliances, lighting (and ceiling fans if they have them), water, etc.
  • Check for mice or rat droppings, ant traps and any other things that could be a sign of an animal problem.
  • Check for water damage, especially coming from the ceiling and the floor as well as any mold damage.
  • Be sure the locks and any security systems work.

Knowing Your Rights and Leases

It’s critical that you clearly understand your lease. Know what you’re responsible for and what can you expect (and not expect) from your landlord. If you have questions, discuss with your landlord now, before it’s too late. It never hurts to run the agreement past an attorney.  Another factor may be where your landlord lives. If you need something fixed, it’s nice to know he will be close by or he has contracted a building maintenance person, or company, to provide both routine and emergency repairs.

Especially if you have a Tenancy-at-Will agreement, know the rules of how many days you would have to leave the apartment and under what circumstances this would be asked of you. Many such agreements are done orally and with no written contract. A fixed-term lease offers more security for a timeframe, but there are still questions of circumstances in which your landlord could ask you to leave. Make sure these are clearly defined. On the other hand, how much would it cost to break your lease? Things happen and if something forces you to break your lease it’s good to know the consequences.  Also, the best advice experts offer is to have a written lease.

Most renters insurance will ask for a security deposit. Exactly what condition will your apartment have to be in for you to get that money back? Ask your landlord and be sure it is spelled out very clearly. You should also know your state’s renting laws. In some states, your landlord must follow certain requirements, such as notifying you which bank or financial institution he has deposited the security deposit.

Renters Insurance

Did you know that if you are already paying car insurance renters may save money on that premium? Sometimes, due to bundling insurance policies, you may obtain a renters insurance policy for a discounted price, sometimes free.  Many renters think they will never need renters insurance, but the fact is your “stuff” isn’t covered without one.

Having a renters insurance policy can cover your belongings as well as offer you liability coverage. If you have questions, call an agent (like yours truly) and ask for some reasons you need a renters insurance policy. They can help you learn more about the importance, coverage options, and the cost.

Other things to consider:

  • Update your address for all of your bills, etc. It’s important to make sure you forward your mail to your new address.
  • Decide between DIY move vs professional movers. DIY may seem like the way to go, but depending on the structure of your home (think: narrow hallways) it may be worth the money to pay professionals. You should also understand the liability coverage if anything is broken or damages your furniture (or the apartment).
  • Don’t forget to pack cleaning supplies. Be sure these are easily accessible on move in day. Chances are you will want to do a full cleaning of your new place before you move in.
  • Feel like you are forgetting something? Here’s a great list from My First Apartment of all the things you will need for your apartment. Roommates? Discuss what everyone has and try to split things up to make it more cost efficient.

It’s important that when move-in day arrives you will be as prepared as possible. Beyond move in day, a strong, clear contract with your landlord and the right renters insurance can continue to keep you prepared.

Sources used in this article:


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