Prepare to Apply
Decide what you need from your apartment. Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need before you start your search. Square footage, amenities and location are also important considerations.
Gather documents that support your ability to pay for the apartment. Paycheck stubs and a verification of employment and earnings from your employer should suffice. Some property owners will also want a complete employment history. Prepare one ahead of time and bring it with you to help show your potential property owner that you are responsible.
Prepare a rental history. Give the names and addresses of your previous three to five property owners. If this is your first time attempting to rent an apartment, provide three to four references that can vouch for your dependability and character. Include at least one professional reference.
Check your credit report. This can be done at no charge through annualcreditreport.com for each of the three reporting agencies. Many property owners check your credit before letting you rent an apartment. Some might make a decision solely based on your credit history. If you have less than stellar credit, bring proof of on-time payments from at least one company you do business with. Utility companies are a good option. In the event you don’t have any positive credit references, ask the property owner if you can pay a higher deposit in lieu of a good credit score.
Keep an eye on the classified section of the local newspaper. Drive around your desired neighborhood looking for “For Rent” signs. Look for rental brochures or magazines in your area. Spread the word among your friends that you are looking for an apartment.
Tour the apartment with the property owner or the agent. Keep an eye out for damages or defects. If there are any damages, be sure to have them included in the rental contract. You definitely don’t want pay for those later.
Bring a pen and paper to every apartment you visit to make a list of pros and cons. You can also ask the property owner if you can take pictures so you can use them to compare apartments when you get home.
Contact the property owner as soon as you decide what apartment you want to rent. Procrastination may cost you the apartment you really want.
Sign the Lease
Read the entire lease before you sign it. Make sure that all terms and conditions are exactly what you were told when you initially inquired about the apartment. If you are unsure about anything, ask for clarification or take the lease to an attorney or trusted friend to review.
Walk through the apartment immediately after you sign the lease to check again for damage and defects. If you notice any, contact the property owner immediately.
Arrange for your move. In some areas, you may have to coordinate the use of parking spaces or service elevators to get your belongings into the apartment.