Are you ready to move out but unsure how to rent an apartment? You’ll want to act swiftly after viewing apartments. It’s possible that the apartment you’ve fallen in love with could be leased the next day! It’s an exhilarating experience, especially if you’re a first-timer – so don’t go in blind! We want to give some insight with a step-by-step guide on renting an apartment.
Step One: Look at Apartments That Fit Your Budget
Renting your own place sounds simple, doesn’t it? But what if, when you move in, you realize you’re in over your head? You discover you can’t afford your new house after eating ramen for every meal and keeping all the lights turned off! Where did things go wrong? You had a spending plan. Okay, you went a little above and beyond, but those floor-to-ceiling windows… You fell in love with at first sight and were determined to make it work in some way.
You’ve made the fatal mistake of looking at apartments that are out of your price range… Every other location will pale in contrast to “the dream apartment.” Save yourself from a year of ramen in the future! Make a budget and stick to it before you start looking. Here’s the golden rule: don’t look at an apartment if you can’t afford the rent.
Here’s a simple way to find out what you can afford:
- Write down the amount you get in your paycheck per month (this is your net income – what you bring home after taxes, etc.)
- Deduct your current bills from the above amount (credit cards, car payment, student loans, gym membership, etc.)
- Add in unexpected expenses, such as new tires on your car or a trip to the doctor for the flu. A good way to do this is to add 10 to 15 percent to your expenses. So if your current bills total $800, add $160 to that.
- Estimate what you expect to spend on utilities and groceries (the amount you’ll need to keep the lights on and food in the fridge). The general rule of thumb for apartment renters is $200 for utilities, or seven percent of your annual income. Groceries are typically about $250 a month for one person.
- Estimate what you’ll want to have for “extras” like dinner out with friends, a night at the club, movies, and all of the things you pay to do on a regular basis.
- The amount left over is the amount you should budget for your rent. If you don’t think it will be enough, go back and look at areas where you can cut, but be realistic. Can you honestly give up game day at the sports bar with your best buds?
Feel free to use this neat online calculator we found to compare with the amount you come up with.
Step Two: Knowing your Credit Score
Before agreeing to rent an apartment to a potential tenant, landlords and property managers want a slew of documents, including paystubs, tax forms, and credit ratings. Learn how your credit score may affect your rental application and what you can do to improve it.
Let’s start with the basics; what is a credit score? When banks, credit card issuers, auto loan issuers, insurance companies, and in this case – landlords make lending or leasing choices, they utilize your credit score. This is a three-digit figure based on your credit history. If you have a poor credit score, banks may view you as “risky,” charging you higher interest rates or rejecting your loan application. Despite the fact that rent payments aren’t often included in credit reports, landlords and property managers may frequently check your credit score or report since bad credit is a red flag for certain landlords.
There are five factors that determine your credit score:
- Payment history: This accounts for the largest chunk of the credit score (35%) and shows whether you make loan and credit card payments on time.
- Accounts owed: This is the second largest part of the credit score (30%) and has to do with how much money you currently owe on your credit cards and loans.
- Average age of credit: The age of your credit accounts for 15% of your credit score.
- New credit: This makes up 10% of your credit score and refers to any recent checks on your credit report. (This does not include soft inquiries, which are requests you make yourself.)
- Credit mix: The final 10% of your credit score is determined by types of credit accounts: revolving and installment. Having a mix of both revolving and installment credit looks best to lenders.
Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850. Depending on the individual lender or insurer, you may see different standards, but generally a FICO score above 800 is considered excellent; “very good” FICO scores range from 740 to 799; a “good” score ranges from 670 to 739; and 580–669 is considered “fair.” Any score below 580 is considered poor.
So, what is the minimum credit score to rent an apartment?You won’t have to worry about your credit score affecting your ability to rent an apartment if your score is in the very good to excellent range. (Assuming everything else in your tenant screening goes smoothly.) However, the ideal score is determined by a number of factors, including the rental market in your area and whether you’re renting in a luxury building.
According to a recent RentCafe survey; approved applicants had an average credit score of 650, while rejected applicants had an average credit score of 538. The numbers are a little higher for high-end buildings: 683 accepted applicants and 553 rejected applicants. The average credit score required for approval is influenced even more by location. Boston (737), San Francisco (724), Seattle (711), Minneapolis (711), Oakland (707), Philadelphia (702), and Los Angeles (702) had the highest credit scores (691).
A good rule of thumb is that higher credit scores are required in more competitive rental markets and fancier buildings, but there’s only one way to know for sure. Inquire with your potential landlord or property management company about any credit score requirements. If you find that your credit is low or non-existent, a roommate could easily help with this predicament.
Step Three: To Roommate or Not to Roommate? That Is the Question.
Continuing from credit worthiness and what your credit score is, an alternative way to rent an apartment if you have bad or no credit is through a roommate. Not only does having a roommate allow for less of a financial responsibility each month, but having a roommate with established credit co-sign. This will not only help with building credit, but it helps with the rental application approval!
A few things to consider for a roommate are:
- Pets? want a pet?
- daily schedule?
- morning or night person?
- neat or messy?
- How important is it to you to pay your bills on time?
- Have you ever been late on rent?
- Do you enjoy cooking at home or dining out?
- What do you like to do on weekends?
- What’s your policy on overnight guests?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
- What are your pet peeves?
- What do you consider the most important trait in a roommate?
- Do you mind sharing things or do you prefer to keep everything separate?
Step Four: Know What You Want, What You Need, and What’s the Difference
You undoubtedly have a lot of questions as a new tenant. As you go out to look at flats, consider the following questions:
What extras do I require, and do they come at a cost?
Don’t be seduced by the allure of a fantastic rooftop terrace or a lavish clubhouse — these features frequently come with a price tag. Make certain to inquire about the cost of renting the clubhouse or the terrace for parties and celebrations. If you never use these amenities, you can avoid the costs, but such “extras” shouldn’t influence your selection.
Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glam. Your heating and cooling expenditures may also rise as a result of that fantastic loft with towering, floor-to-ceiling windows. Those windows do really appear to be spectacular. However, all of those windows may make it more difficult to manage the temperature in the winter and summer, resulting in greater utility expenses.
A fireplace and granite countertops? It’s good to have luxury facilities. However, they are frequently more expensive. Why spend the additional money on these facilities if you seldom use your kitchen and are never home long enough to build a fire?
What should I look for?
It is critical to choose the right location. While you may be tempted to select that lovely apartment in the suburbs because of the lower rent, if you have a long commute to school or work, you may wind up spending considerably more in time and fuel expenditures. Also, if neighboring restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and other attractions are important to you, keep that in mind while you search.
What if I want to get a pet?
You’ll want to make sure your possible rental is pet-friendly even if you don’t have a pet now but plan to have one in the near future. Make sure to inquire about pet fees, additional deposits, and pet rent with the leasing agent.
What’s the best way for me to do laundry?
You’ll most likely find either an on-site laundry facility or washer/dryer connections in an apartment community. You can buy your own washer and dryer and take them with you when you move out if your apartment has hookups.
What’s the best way to obtain Wi-Fi?
Although many apartment complexes do not provide free Wi-Fi, you can receive it through your Internet provider. Inquire with the leasing agent about their favorite supplier; they frequently provide a discount to tenants who utilize their recommended service. If not, look out service providers in your area and make direct contact with them.
What are my options for paying rent and what happens if I don’t pay on time?
Every month, you’ll pay your rent at the same time. Inquire with the leasing agent about the possibility of paying rent online using an online leasing system. You’ll have to go down to the leasing office every month if you don’t. You can pay by credit card, debit card, ACH (automated clearing house), or personal check.
If you can’t pay your rent on time, inform your landlord right away. Inquire if they’ll accept a partial payment or if payment terms can be worked out. Make sure you get any agreement from the landlord in writing, just in case there’s a disagreement later. But try not to be late; even if you are only one day late, the landlord can send you a “notice to end tenancy early” letter (an eviction notice). The warning is canceled if you pay within 14 days. If you are consistently late, your landlord may send you a new form terminating your lease at the end of your term.
Step Five: Head to the Leasing Office! You’re Ready
Getting your documentation together for your application is the next step towards renting an apartment. If you don’t have a lot of renting experience, you’ll need to provide a lot of information to demonstrate that you’re a reliable renter who can pay your rent on time. In order for an application to be completed, applicants are frequently forced to pay non-refundable fees. An application fee, which typically ranges from $30 to $50, is required. Here’s all of the information needed for an apartment application.
The landlord will need to interact with you, so make sure you’re available and give the quickest means to contact you, whether it’s by phone, email, or another manner.
Social Security Number
Your social security number will almost always be required. A copy of your social security card may be required by the landlord. For a background check, you’ll need these information.
You’ll need to enter information about your vehicle if you want to apply for a parking place. Make a list of the vehicle’s make and model, year, and license plate number. The property management could also want to know about the car’s insurance.
Driver’s License or State ID
This information serves as identification and may be required in order to obtain the parking place you desire.
Information about your current and prior addresses/rentals
Your background check will require this information as well. Your former landlords may be contacted for references by the landlord.
Details about your current and prior jobs
This data is required for your criminal background check once again. In the papers, write out your job title, business name, and phone number so your landlord can verify your employment.
Proof of Income
Your application will require pay stubs, tax records, or other forms of evidence of income.
Personal References and/or Past Landlords
A potential landlord would almost certainly contact your past landlords to verify your rental history and manner. Personal references, such as your supervisor, may be requested to verify your job and reputation.
If the landlord can’t reach you or there’s a medical emergency, they may need to call someone close to you, so pick carefully.
Additional information for your landlord may be required in some circumstances. If you don’t have any previous experience renting an apartment, you may require a cosigner. If you intend to rent with a pet, you may be required to submit a pet resume.
For your apartment rental application, you’ll not only need information (as listed above), but a few other things to consider in the application process.
You will most likely be required to pay a non-refundable charge, consent to a background and credit check, and give proof of your rental history.
The average time it takes for an apartment application to get approved is 24 to 72 hours. You may be authorized the same day you apply in some situations. Remember, in the end, it is up to the individual landlord or property management business.
If you need to move out of your existing apartment quickly, make sure to ask this question before completing your application.
Provide copies of your credit report and rental reference letters from your work and prior landlords to try to expedite the process.
You’ll be approved in no time now that you know how to rent an apartment and have filed a detailed and thorough application!
LIVE WITH US AT LE RIVAGE
We hope we were able to clear up all the details for renting an apartment. If you are still unsure one of our other blogs, where to start in your apartment journey could help even more! Our staff at Le Rivage Luxury Apartments would be happy to help answer any questions you have. You can visit our website or even give us a call at 318-257-6922 to learn more. We hope to hear from you soon!