Renting Your First Apartment

Searching for your first rental property is an exciting time in any young person’s life. Often, it means you are financially ready to branch out on your own and away from living with your parents. The apartment-hunting process, however, is stressful no matter where you live. From amenities to floor plans and square footage, to location, there is a lot to consider before signing a lease. 

Here are some of the most common first-time renter mistakes to avoid, which will keep you confident and excited about your first apartment long after moving day.

Not doing enough research

One of the biggest mistakes made by first-time renters is failing to do enough research on the building or property they are interested in. In the age of the internet, searching and comparing rental housing is as easy as a click of the mouse. You can easily search for apartments for rent in Huntsville, Birmingham, or any of your preferred locations and filter them according to your budget and needs.

Douglas Pope, co-founder of rental-marketplace site HotPads says, “Renters need to take control of their own search process. There are so many different options online. You can at least get so much of the research out of the way: You can see exactly what’s available in your price point, in your neighbourhood, what you can afford and where.”

Choosing the wrong location

The right location is probably the most important component to any apartment search. Kris Thorkelson, owner of My Place Realty in Winnipeg, Canada, suggests choosing a location within close proximity to where you work to shorten your commute, whether it’s by foot, train, or car.

“You should also be sure you feel safe in the location you choose. Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to research the area’s crime rates and stay away from those places if possible. Instead, explore areas nearby to feel secure, adds Kris Thorkelson.

Failing to read the terms of the lease

Far too often, first-time renters are eager to sign a lease without thoroughly reading it over first. Look for the fine print and make sure you know the exact terms of your agreement. Are you allowed to sublet? What’s the penalty for breaking your lease? Are utilities included? In addition to these questions, it’s important to know what the amount of the security deposit will be so you can plan your finances ahead accordingly.

Only visiting the apartment once

When it comes to making a major life decision, renting your first home is near the top of the importance list. That is why it’s a good idea to visit the apartment more than once to really get a feel for its idiosyncrasies.
“I moved into an apartment in [Washington, D.C.,] and didn’t realize the back bedroom faced an alley shared with a restaurant.” Douglas Pope says. “It wasn’t a problem in the afternoon when I viewed it, but you have to be mindful of noises. Nowadays, whenever I move, I visit the place during different times of the day.”

Sneaking in a pet

If you have a four-legged friend, then you’ll want to secure a place that allows pets as tenants too. Some landlords do not allow pets at all, while others require an extra security deposit for them. This should also be mentioned in the terms of your lease. If you think you can sneak in a pet, realize that it could land you in legal trouble or to become evicted if the landlord were to find out.

Remember, flexibility is key when searching for your first apartment. Don’t get hooked on a single amenity - rather - think about what you really need to live comfortably for the duration of your lease agreement. Good luck and enjoy the experience!