Moving into your first-ever apartment can be both exhilarating and stressful. On the one hand, you’re finally branching out to live on your own, you’re free. But on the other hand, you’ll be without the safety net of living under someone else’s roof.
While the pros heavily outweigh the cons, there are certain things you need to consider as a first-time renter. This is especially true when it comes time to find your own place. We can help.
Check out our extensive guide on everything you need to know as a first-time renter.
Understand Your Financial Situation
Understanding your financial situation is one of the most responsible things you can do as an adult and a first-time renter. It will help you budget, make good financial decisions, and save you from overextending yourself and falling into debt.
This means knowing and understanding your credit score. Your credit score can greatly affect your chances of being approved for a lease. If you’re young, however, you may have too little credit to your name.
If you have a limited credit history or a poor credit score, you may need to consider having a co-signer help you lock down an apartment. This is a serious request to ask of someone, we suggest starting with a friend or family member.
You also need to think about your monthly costs. How much can you afford to pay for rent? Should you consider getting a roommate to help pay the bills?
Know the Costs
Next, as a first-time renter, you may not understand all the costs that come with living on your own. It’s not as simple as paying the rent check every month.
Renter’s insurance is a must for anybody renting a home, an apartment, or a condo. You need to make sure your possessions are covered in the event of a flood, fire, break-in, or any other disaster.
If you’re moving out of your parents’ home, you’ll need to consider your new adult living costs. These include things like groceries, gas, cell phone bills, internet, and more. Finally, depending on your lease agreement, you could be responsible for some, if not all of the apartment’s utilities (gas, electric, water, waste removal).
Some apartments even come with HOA (homeowners association) fees. However, if you’re paying HOA fees, you probably have access to special amenities.
Finally, most apartment leases require a security deposit roughly the cost of one month’s rent. They may also require the first month’s rent upfront as well.
Consider the Location
As a first-time renter, you may not fully understand how important location is to your day-to-day happiness and convenience. For example, how close do you want to be to work? Additionally, some neighborhoods are safer than others. Perhaps safety is the most important factor in terms of choosing your location.
Finally, think about the proximity of potential apartments to other important things in your life. How close do you want to be to friends, family, shopping, college, and work? There’s a big difference between commuting five minutes each way and 15 minutes each way.
You must find the best neighborhood for you.
Decide What Amenities Are Important
We spoke earlier of HOA fees and how they are often in place to provide amenities for their members. For example, some apartments may come with HOA fees but grant you access to a community pool, spa, hot tub, fitness center, tennis courts, laundry machines, and more.
Your finances may dictate your options, but choosing the right apartment may come down to choosing the one with the best amenities. After all, most people can’t complain about having access to a pool all summer long. You could also save a lot of money (not to mention get more motivated) by having access to the community fitness center.
Thoroughly Read the Lease Agreement
While it will likely be incredibly tedious at the time, it’s important to read everything in the lease agreement. This contract is legally binding, regardless of if you understand it or not. Take your time to make sure you won’t be surprised by anything down the road and be willing to ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand.
The lease agreement will also give you pertinent information about your responsibilities as a tenant as well as the obligations of the landlord. This includes:
- What maintenance and repairs are you responsible for if any?
- Are you allowed to have pets and if so, what extra costs are involved?
- Are there any noise rules or regulations?
- What modifications are you allowed to make?
- What are the late rent payment penalties?
- What are the terms and conditions of being evicted?
- Can you bring on a roommate and sublet an extra room?
- How long is the lease agreement/what are your options?
- Can the landlord raise the rent?
- What utilities are you responsible for?
- What are the penalty fees for breaking the lease early?
- How does a lease renewal work?
Make sure you receive a full copy of the lease agreement once you’ve signed everything. This is common practice for landlords but can be forgotten. This paperwork is vital, however, in the event that you come into disagreement with your landlord.
Give the Initial Move-In Inspection the Utmost Priority
Finally, once you’ve signed the paperwork and are moved into the apartment, you have one more obligation – the inspection. You generally have a few days to a week to report any existing damages or issues with the apartment.
As a first-time renter, it’s important to take your time and thoroughly inspect every inch of the apartment. If you find an issue and report it in the paperwork, you can’t be charged for it later. Here’s a quick guide on what to look for:
- All appliance work correctly
- All outlets have power
- All light switches work
- Damage to drywall, trim, flooring, etc.
- Water damage/mold (especially around plumbing, appliances, windows, and vents)
- Leaking plumbing
- Functioning thermostat
- Cracked windows
- Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Broken blinds, shades, and other window treatments
- Stains on carpet or flooring
- All faucets work
Are You a First-Time Renter in Spokane?
If you’re looking for an apartment as a first-time renter in Spokane, we can help. Check out our current properties available for rent or feel free to contact us with any questions. Remember to find the right balance of taking your time and shop around while avoiding letting a good opportunity to slip through your fingers.