Important things to know and do before renting an apartment for the first time.
Have all Your Paperwork and Deposits Ready and in Order
When you are preparing to apply for a new apartment there are some essential things that you should have on hand. You should have the completed rental application, your employer’s contact information and the contact information of three references (this could be former landlords, colleagues, or personal friends). It is also helpful to have a copy of a recent credit report. You can access your credit report for free at least once a year. To access your latest credit report, click here. Make sure there are not any hiddens fees by calling the company before providing any information to them online. Also, remember to bring your checkbook. You will likely have to pay a fee to submit an application and/or put down a holding fee while your application is being processed. It is helpful to call in advance and ask about any required application fees or deposits.
Read Your Lease Carefully
Once you have been approved for an apartment, it is very important that you review your lease carefully before you sign. Pay close attention to the restrictions on guests, pets and/or running a business out of your home. You should also know when your rent is due every month, when you incur late fees, how much they are and how much notice you have to give when you are ready to move out.
Be Aware of Your Privacy Rights
As a tenant your have rights too. For example, your landlord needs to give you notice before entering your unit. Usually, it is at least 24 hours and only under certain circumstances such as repairs or showing unit to new renters.
Set Up Utilities
You want to make sure that you set up your utilities before you move into the apartment. Plan ahead and call the utility companies at least one week before you move. Utility companies typically have different payment options. You could for example, sign up for a budget plan where your payments are the same each month. Make sure you ask about the different payment options available. You also might have to put down a deposit however, companies will usually include it in your bill over the first couple of months. Make sure you ask so you are not surprised when the bill arrives.
Insist on Repairs
If you find that your apartment is in need of a repair. Make sure you tell your landlord as soon as possible. Also, make sure you put it in writing whenever possible. An open relationship with your landlord can be very important in getting repairs done.
Get Renter’s Insurance
While it may seem like an added expense, renters insurance can protect your belongings in case of a crisis (e.g., theft). Typically, renter’s insurance is not too costly.
Look After Your Security Deposit
Security deposits are usually refunded at the end of the lease term unless you damage the property. To ensure that you get your security deposit back you want to make sure your take care of your apartment/house. Click here for steps to getting your security deposit back when you move out. Landlords generally return security deposits 30 days after you move out. However, you should read your lease carefully for this information.
Hopefully you will never find yourself in a position that you have to deal with an eviction but as a renter there are a few things that you should know about evictions. You cannot be evicted from your apartment unless your landlord has gone to court and he or she has terminated your rental contract in writing. For more information, click here.
Fostering Success Michigan is a program of The New Foster Care that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation