Three Things I wish I’d known Before Renting My First Apartment

1. Have all Your Ducks In a Row

Apartment Hunting can be daunting. Once you’ve determined your price point and ideal neighborhood, you and numerous others may compete for that same perfect spot. The summer is an especially busy season for finding a rental, and the market can get competitive. I missed out on a few great opportunities for affordably priced places because I didn’t have all of my documentation at my fingertips. Rental applications can require names and phone numbers of previous landlords, roommates, employers, and references. You’ll likely also need to include the address and phone number for all of the places you’ve lived and worked in the past three years. Some applications require your two most recent paystubs. Before visiting that perfect apartment, make sure you can easily access this information. You may find yourself quickly filling out the application on the spot and submitting it before anyone else gets the chance.


2. Read the Lease

A lease may seem like a necessary but unimportant piece of paper. And indeed, the concept is fairly straightforward: the tenant pays the rent, the landlord agrees to fix things if they break, if either party doesn’t comply, problems ensue. “Where do I sign?”  was my biggest question when first encountering a lease.  The complex language and phrasing can be difficult to parse. However, it’s still really important to read it! It’s a legally binding contract involving you and your money. Occasionally, landlords will offer things verbally which are not in the lease, or vice versa. The lease may auto renew, or the lease may include terms for when the rent is raised. Read it thoroughly and if something doesn’t make sense, ask questions. It’s far better to clarify things earlier rather than later.


3. Get Renter’s Insurance

In my early 20s, I doubt I even vaguely understood renters insurance. Even if I did, why would I shell out an extra $12-$20 per month insuring my ikea silverware and thrift store furniture? I thought I had nothing of  real value, and that extra couple of hundred dollars a year could have been better spent on beer and concert tickets. That is, until a friend’s house caught fire and she and her five roommates lost everything inside. Even if your things don’t seem valuable, replacing an entire wardrobe, electronics and  furniture all at once would be pretty expensive. Also, renter’s insurance covers your personal belongings, whether they are in your home, car, or with you when you travel. Spending a few cents a day on renters insurance makes perfect sense.

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