One of the first activities that signifies the commencement of adulthood is getting your own apartment. A feeling of independence and sense of self-sufficiency accompanies moving into your own space.

However, before you pick out furniture and change your mailing address, you need to understand how to rent an apartment. If you’re asking yourself, “How does renting an apartment work?” you’re not alone. In fact, many young adults and first-time renters are unaware of exactly how to get an apartment.

How Does Renting An Apartment Work?

The apartment search, application, and approval process can be daunting for a first-time renter. However, the entire operation is pretty exhausting for most even the most seasoned renters. It’s important to complete preliminary research on how to get an apartment before jumping ahead to next steps.

There are a few easy steps to make apartment hunting more manageable. Laying the groundwork for renting an apartment might seem unnecessary, but it ensures that you have a plan in place to thoroughly vet your options. That way, once you decide to sign a lease you don’t regret your decision.

How To Rent An Apartment

1.) Determine your budget.

As you start your apartment search, it’s important to determine how much you are able to afford before committing to a fixed monthly rent. The first step is to look at your monthly income, average living expenses, and total savings.

Financial consultants recommend spending 25 – 35% of your income after taxes on rent. Make sure to budget for the cost of utilities if your apartment complex doesn’t include them in the rent.

Setting your budget will help narrow down your housing options and guide your research. Housing is often more affordable when you live with a roommate. If you can’t find something within your budget, try to live with a friend or someone you trust.

2.) Make a list of your ideal apartment criteria.

It’s important to prioritize what you want in your new residence before beginning your search. It’s easy for the lines to blur between needs and wants when apartment shopping, so listing each in advance can be very helpful.

Some factors to consider when searching for an apartment could include:

  • Location
  • Size of space
  • Amenities
  • Pet-friendly
  • Access to public transportation
  • Parking
  • On-site management
  • Monthly rent
  • Length of lease
  • Maintenance service

Although the apartment you end up leasing might not check off all the boxes on your list, this exercise will allow you to itemize the aspects of your dream apartment and rank them in order of their importance to you.

3.) Research potential apartment complexes.

After drafting your list of apartment criteria, begin to research different apartment communities that fit your needs. As you begin your search, you can eliminate communities that are lacking important items from your wish list.

Ensure that you thoroughly vet your options to avoid scams. Red flags of an illegitimate leasing company include excessive upfront fees, lack of a lease agreement, or being asked to send money prematurely.

Whether you’re new to the area or unfamiliar with local housing laws, it’s useful to familiarize yourself with regulations in your area. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development describes tenant rights by state.

4.) Visit prospective apartment complexes.

Set aside time to tour complexes and/or attend open houses. While photos and floor plans provide a cursory look at whether or not a particular community will meet your needs, it’s certainly not a substitute for meeting with staff and walking through a potential property in person.

Make sure to clear at least a half-day from your schedule to see the community’s condition in person. Call ahead to set an appointment so that the on-site staff has time set aside specifically for you.
As you walk through the community keep an eye out for damage such as holes in the wall, carpet stains, broken fixtures, cracked tiles, etc. If it’s possible for you to tour an actual unit pay attention to things like whether the water faucets work and toilets flush properly.

5.) Ask questions.

While touring a community and/or attending open houses, make sure to ask the management questions. Never assume anything when it comes to what is included in the rent and what is not.

Some potential questions to bring up include:

  • Do you own other properties? If so, where?
  • What is the resident turnover rate?
  • How long has this unit been empty?
  • Are utilities included in the monthly rent?
  • How long is the lease? What are the penalties of breaking a lease early?
  • Is there a security deposit?
  • What is the typical rent increase year-to-year?
  • Is there a washer and dryer in the unit? In the building?
  • How quickly are maintenance requests addressed?
  • Is internet and/or cable included?
  • What decorating restrictions are in place?

6.) Fill out an application.

Once you’ve narrowed down your apartment options and chosen where you want to live, you can start the rental application process. In most cases, the leasing agency or landlord will begin a credit check and potentially ask for references.

After you submit your application, the hardest part is over. Finding an apartment to rent is exciting, so once you sign a lease, start packing and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Southern Management Makes Apartment Hunting Easy

As you begin your apartment search, don’t underestimate the importance of finding a trustworthy residential property manager. At Southern Management, customer care is our number one priority.

We pride ourselves on the way we treat our residents, and the proof of our uncompromising level of customer service is seen in the long-term relationships we establish with our residents.

Our management is so responsive that we have a service guarantee in place which states we will respond to your maintenance request within one business day. We are so confident in this guarantee that we will give you rent back for any business day that goes by in which your request isn’t addressed.
Call (703) 902-9555, or contact us to set up a tour of any of our apartment communities.