So You Want to Rent an Apartment, Now What?

Rent an Apartment

Renting an apartment is typically one of your first big financial commitments. And, as with any major commitment, there are many factors to consider. 

1. Set a budget.

You'll need money for food, transportation, phone and Internet, and probably some savings for a rainy day—so determine a budget and allocate a portion of that for your rent. 

2. Find and inspect apartments. 

Once you've determined your budget, it’s time to find the available rental apartments in your area. When you visit, remember to check for the following:

  • Properly working plumbing and electricity—Turn on taps and light switches, flush toilets, and check under sinks for evidence of leaks.
  • Security features—Ensure doors and windows have secure frames and sturdy locks.
  • Routine maintenance issues—Inspect the floors, walls, and ceilings for damage or decay.

3. Ask the right questions. 

Your experience as a renter begins by asking the landlord key questions, including:

  • How much is the rent, and when is it due?
  • What are my expectations as a tenant regarding cleaning, recycling, and waste? 
  • Are utilities included?
  • Can I make changes to the apartment?
  • What happens when the lease ends?
  • How do I submit a maintenance request? 
  • What if it's an emergency?
  • What is the policy on long-term visitors and subletters?
  • Are pets allowed? 
  • Is renters insurance required?
  • What is the policy on pets?
  • Is there parking available, and what are the costs associated with it?
  • Who is responsible for maintenance and common areas?
  • Can I document any current damage in the apartment?
  • Are there penalties for breaking the lease?
  • How do I make sure to get my security deposit back?
  • Are there any fines? (noise, mess, etc)?
  • When were the locks last changed? 
  • Can I change the locks? 
  • Am I allowed to install my own safety measures?
  • What security measures are in place?

If possible, you should also talk to some of the current tenants about what it's like to live there. 

4. Rent the apartment.

Once you find the perfect apartment, fill out a rental application. If your application is approved and you pass the credit check, it's time to sign a rental agreement (short term) or a lease (longer term). Don’t forget to inventory everything in the apartment. Take photos to document the condition of each item.

5. Secure renters insurance.

Some landlords require for you to hold renters insurance to cover the property in the event of an unexpected loss. This will save you from having to pay for damages that are not a part of wear and tear. In addition, this gives you coverage for your personal belongings both on the property and outside of the property.

Additional Resources

We have gathered advice from professors, alumni and more to help you answer the age-old question: now what? Read more of these tips to help navigate the important next steps in your personal or professional life at
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018