For many college students, the start of the fall semester means renting their first apartment. Whether you’re making the move on your own or your parents are co-signing the lease, here are some tips to make first-time renting easier:
1) Do the research.
Thanks to review sites such as Yelp.com, you can quickly find out which buildings are known for loud parties, which keep communal areas clean, and which are responsive to renter issues. No rental property is perfect, but it’s easy to identify the ones that fall way below the mark.
2) Check your credit history.
A missed or late payment on a bill can make it more difficult to rent an apartment. If you have a couple of dings on your credit record, be prepared to explain them to potential landlords or ask your parents to co-sign your lease.
3) Look before you lease.
Have the landlord take you on a walkthrough of the apartment before you sign the lease, recording any damage that existed before you moved in. Read your lease thoroughly prior to signing. If there are parts you don’t understand, research them online or run them by your parents or a friend with experience renting an apartment.
4) Be ready for that big first payment.
Many landlords require first and last months’ rent in advance and some may ask for a cleaning deposit. The average rent is about $720 per month depending on your location, so the cost to move in can be in the neighborhood of $1,500.
5) Set up utilities.
Some apartment buildings that cater to college students include water and cable in the monthly rent. Most, however, don’t include electricity. If you have no credit history, you may need to establish an account by showing your driver’s license or other picture ID at your local electric company’s customer service department.
6) Consider renters insurance.
Do your move-in boxes contain pricey electronic equipment or other valuables that could be damaged or stolen? If so, you may want to take out some renters insurance. Shop around for companies offering the best service for the lowest rates.
7) Establish some ground rules.
If you’re going to be living with roommates, sit down and discuss how you’ll split shared expenses. This might also be a good time to talk about such things as pets or smoking in the apartment because both can chip away at your deposit when you move out.
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With a little preparation, moving into your first apartment can be a lot of fun. Do you have any advice for first-time renters? Leave a comment and let us know.