Apartment Rental Tips

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What is my responsibility as a renter?

Your Responsibilities as a Renter

As an apartment renter you will have a few responsibilities to keep in mind, so if you are moving into an apartment take these into account.

First, you must follow your lease- the agreement that you signed before moving in. If you fail to follow the lease rules, you may be asked to vacate your apartment and not receive your deposit. You may also be charged other fees in accordance to the lease agreement.

Second, pay your rent on time, all the time. You may have to pay fees or be evicted from your apartment should you not pay your rent on the day it is due each month.

Third, maintain your apartment so that it is in good condition on the day you move out. Change the light bulbs when they burn out, replace smoke detector batteries and report any repairs that may need taken care of promptly. Take care of where you live!

Last, it is important that you purchase renter's insurance. Renter's insurance is much like homeowners insurance and will cover your belongings inside the apartment should there be a fire, a flood or a burglary. The company or landlord that owns your building is only responsible for the outside of the unit and the items that were present on the inside when you moved in. Everything else is your responsibility.

What is an apartment comparison checklist?

Comparing Apartment Choices

One good way to compare apartments when looking is to take along an apartment comparison sheet. You can do a simple search engine search for a sheet to download and print off. The sheet will most likely have the several pieces of information on it and can be filled out with each apartment you see. What can you expect an apartment comparison sheet to have?

You will want to fill out the name and the address of each apartment at the top of the sheet. You will then have a checklist with many different choices on it. One topic on the checklist may be "Living space" and will ask you questions, which you will check yes or no. An example of a question asked would be; "Do the kitchen drawers open and close easily?" You may have another topic entitled, "Security" which would ask you questions about how secure the building and the unit is in the building. Expect questions about fencing around the property and if all the windows lock in the unit you may rent.

Your apartment comparison checklist should have many more topics than those mentioned above, topics such as appliances, noise, and plumbing should all have questions regarding that specific topic. Once you have seen all the apartments you are interested in, you can go over your completed checklists to help you make an educated decision about which one is right for you. Remember to take a tape measure in order to measure if your furniture will fit through the doors of all the apartments you visit and see if your furniture will fit well inside the unit.

If you are working with a moving company, many offer these apartment checklists free of charge through their website. You may want to search the specific mover website or speak to a representative from the company to see if a checklist is offered. If not, remember you can find them on the Internet.

What is a renter's resume?

Renter's Resume

In many cities the apartment rental market moves fast and landlords can be picky about who they want living in their rental. If you are hoping to move into a new apartment you may want to consider having something typed up called a renter's resume.

A renter's resume is kind of like a resume you would have when applying for jobs, but instead of past work history you would have past rental history. You may also wish to include letters of reference from past landlords or friends who can vouch for your character as an apartment renter. In competitive markets a renter's resume may be just what you need to get the landlord's attention, thus helping you rent that beautiful apartment you have always dreamed of.

If you don't have a past rental history, write a letter explaining how responsible you are, your work history and give some references from people who know your character and turn that in. It may give you an added edge over someone who doesn't have anything at all.

Why should I get to know the neighborhood before I move?

Check the Neighborhood

When moving into an apartment in a new neighborhood, you will really want to walk around the area and see what it is like. Check into the schools in the area if you have kids, after all- you will want a good school system for your child to be educated in. Before you move, walk around the block at different times of the day to get a feel for what it is like at all times. Is it noisy at night? Is the area clean or dirty? Do people keep their apartments neat on the outside? If the apartment you are interested in doesn't have a laundry area in the unit, what is the laundry area like for the entire building? Are the grounds kept well?

Many of these things are important aspects of apartment living to take into consideration. You will want to make sure the neighborhood you are moving in to is safe, clean and quiet (if you prefer a quiet location) and that the people in the area seem to take pride in their homes or apartments. If you get an uneasy feeling or you notice that the area is quite loud at night but quiet in the afternoon, and you want quiet all the time, you may want to consider moving into another apartment complex. Getting to know the neighborhood is important before you move!

What is the difference between a condo and an apartment?

Apartment or Condo? What's the Difference?

Are you renting an apartment or a condominium? Is there really a difference? The answer is yes; there is a difference between the two. If you are moving into a condo, it isn't always the same as living in an apartment.

An apartment is owned by either one person who acts as a landlord or by a company who most likely has a property manager who oversees the running of the apartment complex, takes the rent payments and has maintenance people who fix any problems within the complex. Generally the property manager works in a building located on the complex's property or in a separate office located in a company building. You are not usually required to pay any additional fees for maintaining the property.

If you are moving into a condominium you may be renting the condo from an individual person who owns the property and does not live there. A condo usually requires the renter to pay something called an association fee. The association usually has a list of rules that must be followed by the renters of the condominium, such as no loud noises, no planting trees or bushes in the yard. Typically you pay the association fee which will help pay for trash removal, winter weather removal and any repairs your unit may need or other things such as swimming pool upkeep, if available.

What should I know about signing a lease?

Before You Sign a Lease

Once you have decided on an apartment to move in to, you will want to keep in the mind the following things before signing the lease. The lease is a legal document that binds you to your rental agreement through a rental company or landlord, so it is important that you know everything on that lease and agree to it before signing on the dotted line.

You will want the lease to have a description of every room in the apartment you are renting, it should have written what is working, what isn't, what things look like and if there are any stains on any carpet, counter tops or other appliances. If there are any items in the apartment that need repair, have the landlord put that in the lease along with an agreement on his or her part to fix it before your move in date.

Double check your lease to see what it says about terminating the lease before the allotted time- for example you sign a lease for one year, if you need to move out before that one year, is there a penalty for doing so? What about the deposit you put down? What would be the cause of not receiving your deposit back after your lease expires? What about pets? If you have a pet is there a pet disclosure agreement included in the lease? What does it say about cleaning up after your pet?

Reading over every detail of your lease before signing is crucial and remember to keep a copy of your lease and make sure you get one. You can't do anything without proof that you have a signed and written agreement between the rental company and yourself.

How can I find an apartment that works for me?

Finding an Apartment that Works For You

When searching for your apartment you will want to make a checklist with the things that are necessities for your new home to have. For example, if a dishwasher is an absolute must, put that on your list of "Must Haves". If you can live with or without a washer and dryer in your unit, put that on a list of "Can do with or without" and if you don't need a master bath in your master bedroom, put that on your list under "Don't need". Dividing your list into three sections of must have, can compromise and don't care or need, will help. There is no sense in looking at apartment that has no dishwasher in the kitchen if you absolutely won't live without one.

You will need to bring your checkbook with you when you are looking at apartments, because if you find one that you love and want to move in to, you will need a deposit to keep that unit for you. You may need to provide proof of your income and the rental company may want to run a background check on you as well. Bring any necessary documents for these things in order to be prepared.

Can I hire an apartment moving company?

Apartment Movers

Moving into an apartment can be a tricky move, especially if the apartment complex has a lot of stairs and no elevator, or if it has an elevator with not much room and a narrow staircase. This can make moving large furniture items a bit of a challenge. Many people decide to hire a moving company that has experience with apartment moves; sometimes it is just easier for a professional to do the moving, especially if your apartment location isn't easy for maneuvering bulky items to.

Before you hire an apartment mover you will want to get quotes for your move. Call as many movers in your area and ask if they do apartment moves. If so, request a free estimate from several apartment moving companies and then decide on which one works for you. You will want to start contacting movers in your area about six weeks before the day of the move, to ensure that company you decide on is available to assist you. You can find an apartment mover in your area by doing an Internet search or using the Yellow Pages in your local phone book.

How can I find an apartment?

Find an Apartment

If you are moving into an apartment you will want to find one that suits all of your needs. If you are relocating to an apartment in another city it may be difficult to travel to your new city to visit several different apartments. If this is the case you may want to consider doing your apartment search on-line. Many websites, such as apartmentfinder.com will assist you in your quest for the perfect apartment.

You can view pictures of apartments in the area you are searching, view contact information for the management of the complex, rental information, and all the amenities that are included with the apartment. Some websites like the one mentioned above, even offer virtual tours and floor plans for you to check out. Websites such as these really help cut down on your searching and saves you time. Remember however, that the best way to find your perfect apartment is to actually go and tour some of the ones that interest you that you have researched.

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William Pirraglia