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Renting an Apartment? Consider these 7 Tips

Updated on March 14, 2013

You have finally found the perfect apartment. You have already begun daydreaming about how you will decorate every room. Before you get too excited there are some very important things you should think about before you sign that lease. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the minor details of renting an apartment that we don’t take extra care in protecting ourselves from the many pitfalls of renting. Renting an apartment is a huge responsibility, and if you are not careful it could haunt you for years to come.

TIP #1 – Choose the Right Apartment Complex – Be mindful of the neighborhood you are considering. Make sure you drive through the complex at different times of the day and night. In the daytime, it may seem like it is the most peaceful and serene neighborhood you have ever seen, but at night it could be a totally different story. Are there plenty of parking spaces nearest to my apartment in the event I come home late at night? You don’t want to come home late at night and have to walk clear across the complex to your apartment, because this would be inconvenient and unsafe.

TIP #2 – Check with local Law Enforcement – Most local law enforcement agencies will be happy to provide you with a crime report. This report will let you know how many auto break-ins, robberies, rapes, etc. there has been in the particular apartment complex you are considering. This is valuable information to consider before renting.

TIP #3 – Choose an upper floor apartment – Living on an upper floor can reduce your likelihood of a break-in, especially if you have a patio. Ground floors make it too easy for criminals to break-in to your apartment. Although you can still be robbed on an upper floor, it is a little more inconvenient than a ground floor apartment.

TIP #4 – Purchase Rental Insurance – This is a MUST! I know some people say that it is too expensive or don’t think they will need it. Trust me, it is better to be safe than to have something happen, and you are not covered by insurance. Call around and get quotes from different insurance companies. Rental insurance is not as expensive as you may think, but you should definitely have it if you rent an apartment. The apartment complex covers their property, not yours.

TIP #5 – Read your Lease very carefully – Leases can be very complicated, but take your time and read every line. If there is something you don’t agree with or understand, make it known BEFORE you sign the lease. I once rented an apartment, and there were about twenty different things I needed to do before moving out of my apartment in order for me to get my deposit back. Some of those things were at a great expense to me. Know exactly what you have to do to break your lease, and how much it will cost you. The lease will let you know what things you can do to your apartment, and all of the rules of the complex. You need to really take your time and read through your lease thoroughly.

TIP #6 – Take your initial and final walk through seriously – This is another one of those things that the excitement of renting your new apartment can cause you to be careless. Bring a camera/video and take pictures of your apartment during the walk through with the apartment personnel. Look in closets for holes or mold. Check for anything broken as small as it might seem list it on your walk through sheet. Check your carpets or flooring for spots, marks, or dirt. Look for every little thing that is wrong in the apartment, because if you don’t do this at this point, you will be responsible for it when you move out of the apartment. Keep your pictures/video in a safe place so you can refer to it if needed when you move out.

When moving out don’t return the keys to the apartment complex until you have walked through the apartment WITH the apartment personnel. If you return the keys, and haven’t walked through with the apartment personnel, anything that happens to that apartment between the time you returned the keys, and the apartment personnel walks through the apartment will be your responsibility. You want to show the apartment personnel how clean you left the apartment and discuss any problems that may come up during the final walk through. Also, take pictures/video of the move out condition of the apartment.

TIP # 7 – Pay your rent directly to your rental agent – Recently, I heard of a story that people were breaking into the rental drop boxes stealing rent checks and money orders. This can be costly if you don’t save your receipts and keep them someplace safe in the event something like this happens. It also gives thieves your valuable personal information, which could lead to identity theft. Never drop your rent payment in a drop box.

You are now ready to sign your lease and move in. Renting an apartment doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you take precautions to protect yourself. We are sometimes careless and trusting when it comes to renting an apartment, and that can cost you dearly. Happy renting!

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