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Mistakes First Time Renters Make (and How to Avoid Them)

  • Norhart


5 min read
Mistakes First Time Renters Make (and How to Avoid Them)

First time renting an apartment? Don’t worry.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that it’s easier said than done, right? If you’re like most, you’re feeling uncomfortable and intimidated. You’re excited, but at the same time, you’re nervous. It’s okay. Afterall, this is something you haven’t done before. Again, I’m going to tell you not to worry.

Instead, I want to help ease your mind – you’re not alone. In fact, so many people are going through or have already gone through this. At one point, they too felt similar if not the same emotions as you. Today, those people are living comfortably in their new apartment – just as you will be too!

Lucky for you, you’ll get to learn through their experiences – their mistakes.

Set a Budget

First things first, what can you afford? A lot of people get caught spending more than they have. They go online and find an apartment with all the modern conveniences and amenities. They sign a lease and a couple months later, they realize they can’t afford it.

Where these people go wrong is, they didn’t budget beforehand. Save yourself the stress and calculate your expenses. Find out what your maximum amount of rent is and find an apartment in that price range.

There are plenty of websites that have filters. Filters allow you to look for apartments based on specific requirements. One of those filters is rent.

It’s important to live within your means.

Get Insurance

Something that should be included in your budget is renter’s insurance.

Knock on wood, but if there is a flood, a fire, or some other kind of disaster, your landlord isn’t responsible. You are responsible for your personal property. Most insurance policies range from $100 to $300 per year.

Create a Wish List

Before you set out to hunt for an apartment, think through what your must-haves and your would like-to-haves are. When you know these things ahead of time, it’ll be easier to tell whether a place fits into your lifestyle, or not.

Without doing so, your priorities might shift, and areas of your life might get missed. It’s best to go in with an idea of what you want from an apartment than to be convinced otherwise from a property owner and be stuck in a lease that you regret.

Have Good Credit

If you have good credit, it makes it all the much easier to get the apartment you want. If you have poor credit, it doesn’t automatically nick you out of the running. No, there are ways to rent an apartment with poor credit.

Whichever your case may be, reviewing your credit history is a good idea. Make certain that there aren’t any errors before handing it over to a landlord.

Go Check Out the Place

Whether it’s for a short time or a long time, you’ll want to see the place in person.

Online, everything looks picture perfect. Although, when you get there, you might realize the rooms are a lot smaller than you originally thought and that the building stinks. You’ll want to ensure that's everything in good working condition. Feel free to address any possible issues (cracks, leaks, etc.) with the property manager or leasing agent.

Check out the property amenities. Leasing companies will raise the cost of rent to cover the cost of amenities. Make certain that they are worth spending your money on. If something is non-functional (dirty pool or broken equipment), it won’t do you any good.

While you’re there, you might as well check out the neighborhood. Try to go a couple times at different times of the day. How do you feel about the neighborhood in the morning compared to later in the afternoon?

Seeing what you’re getting is the best way to make a decision.

Take Pictures

Like I said before, the pictures online might be glammed up. When touring a property, take your own pictures. Take the same picture(s) at each property – bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. That way when you want to reference a specific apartment, you’ll be able to look back and compare – one kitchen to another.

Once you decide on an apartment, you signed the lease and now you’re ready to move in, go about the apartment taking pictures of how things look. If something is broken, scratched, or dented take a picture. Do this so that you aren’t to blame later.

Report it

Along with taking pictures. If something seems wrong to you or is broken, whether it was your fault or someone else’s, let someone know about it.

Say it’s the elevator. Maybe the elevator is acting up. Well, that’s something that a lot of people use, so maybe you don’t tell the landlord because you assume someone else already did. If everyone thought the same, nothing will get reported.

The same goes for inside your apartment. For instance, maybe the refrigerator is making noises. Rather than stressing over the thought of why it’s doing that, let your landlord know. It’s okay. It might just need some maintenance. Then, once it’s fixed, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Buy Things Over Time

You don’t need that rug, lamp, mirror, dresser, chair, mattress, and coffee table. At lease, you don’t need those things all at once. Even if you don’t have any furniture, consider the necessities. Remember, you have rent to pay and other living expenses. Spending too much in a short amount of time is sure to strain on your budget.

There is no deadline that says you have to have your apartment in order. As time goes on, the things that you need will become apparent.

Don’t Prop Doors Open

Speaking of purchases, depending on what it is that you’re bringing in (couch, table, chairs, etc.), you might think that it’s best to prop the doors open. Don’t.

All doors, the entry door, the side and back doors, even your own door are there for a purpose. They are there for the safety and security of everyone in the building. Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re moving in or hauling laundry, please don’t prop open any doors.

When a door is left propped open, even if it’s for a minute, someone could come in. That someone might not even live there.

Read the Lease

We’re so quick to sign documents without actually reading them. It’s a tedious task but skipping over the fine print can make any situation a headache. It’s important to read the lease because every lease is different.

Most things that you can and can’t do will be stated in your lease. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that you can’t smoke, can’t paint, can’t have pets, or that you have to be quiet during certain hours. Besides, you might even uncover some added benefits from reading the lease, such as 24-hour access to the fitness center, maintenance, guest privileges, and more.

Ask Questions

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

These are a few common mistakes that people make. You will likely uncover problems of your own. Although, I hope that after reading this, you feel more equipped and confident to take on this new adventure of yours.