Every young person looks forward to the day they can finally move out on their own and get their very first apartment. While this is a fun task and something to look forward to, there are many things to carefully consider before taking this big step.
The first step is to find out what kinds of apartments are available in your price range. You have several options here. First you can look in the local papers, rental guidebooks and yellow pages for available apartments and apartment complexes.
You can also look on the internet. Many places have web sites where you can take a virtual tour of the facilities as well as see floor plans and pricing. This is a great way to compare different apartments without having to drive all over town.
You can also ask people you know if they know of any apartments that have vacancies. This is also a good way to find out what landlords are good to rent from and what apartment buildings are the nicer ones to live in. Finally, you can look on bulletin boards and to-let signs on the road. If you have real estate agents that specialize in rentals you might try them as well.
When you finally do find an apartment you are interested in, be prepared to fill out a rental application form. This information on this form will be used to determine if you are a good risk to rent to. They will most likely do a credit check and will verify employment and salary range. You may need to provide your social security number or the copy of your Visa or LPR card. You may have to pay a fee just to fill out the form and it may take a couple of weeks to find out if you are approved. First time renters might need a co-signer who will be responsible should you not pay your rent on time.
Once you are approved, expect to sign a lease. This document will state all the terms that apply to the rental as well as the time frame and fixed monthly rent. You should keep a copy of this in your files. The lease can be for any amount of time, but a year is pretty standard. The lease stipulates what recourse the landlord has if you fail to pay your rent and also that your rent can not be raised until the lease ends.
The landlord will want your first months rent in advance along with a security deposit which usually is equal to one months rent. Sometimes, they ask for the first and last months rent in advance in addition to a security deposit so you might want to ask about this up front to be sure you have enough money. Some apartments do allow pets and if you have one you can expect to pay an additional security deposit which will be specifically used to fix any damage caused by the pet. Some places also charge a small monthly premium if you have a pet.
If you leave at the end of the lease with your apartment in tip top shape, your security deposit will be refunded. The landlord may keep some part of the deposit if the property has incurred any kind of damage. You may have to forfeit your security deposit entirely if you break the lease agreement.
Unexpected things happen in life and you might enter into a lease with good intentions but circumstances might cause you to have to break it. Most landlords realize this and will try to work with you to get the apartment rented so you incur as little expense as possible. Be forewarned, however that if you do break the lease and the landlord cannot find a tenant you are responsible to pay the rent up until the end of the lease.