Renting your first apartment is, undeniably, a very exciting time. When you find that perfect place to call your new home and start mentally setting up your furniture, it’s easy to forget that you actually need to have all your ducks in a row before being handed the keys. Yes, guys, there’s lots of adulting that comes with renting an apartment.
If you’re striking out on your own for the first time as a renter, there are few things you should be prepared to present before you begin filling out your rental application. Don’t fret, though, because we have everything you need to secure your first apartment.
A good credit score isn’t something you think about until it’s time to do something like rent an apartment. The landlord needs to know if you’re in good standing, have paid your bills on time and don’t have any serious marks like bankruptcy on your record. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, check out apps like CreditKarma, which will give you reports from multiple agencies. This way, if something comes up before renting an apartment, you have an understanding of any blemishes that are dragging down your score.
If you do have bad credit, it doesn’t mean you’ll never have a place of your own. Some landlords are sympathetic to past mistakes and will still take you on as a tenant if you have someone to co-sign with you. This person (usually a parent) will be legally responsible to pay the rent if you default. It sounds like a big deal, but it only becomes one if you can’t cover your expenses. Make sure you’re financially stable before you ask for outside help.
Speaking of being financially stable, one of the key things you need before unlocking the front door is proof of income — although it is possible to rent a place even if you’re unemployed. If you’re a full-time employee, make sure to have the last 3-5 pay stubs ready for your potential landlord. If you’re a freelancer, it can be trickier. Showing a consistent flow of cash when monthly earnings easily fluctuate can make a landlord doubt your ability to cover rent. However, if you have written job offers, a letter confirming you’re a contracted worker from a supervisor or have consistent pay stubs or deposits from the same company, you should be golden.
It’s common practice for a landlord to check out your bank balances to see how much you have nested away. If your checking account is a little low, it’s OK, but if your savings are barely enough to cover the deposit and first months rent, you might want to think about holding back on that specific apartment. A fast and easy way to do this is by picking up odd jobs around your area. You can also have a moving sale instead of throwing out clothes and furnishings you don’t want to move with, just to make some extra cash.
When you’re looking for the perfect apartment rental, the number one thing to remember is that you have competition. You’ll make an afternoon appointment to view a place, only to walk in and see other potential renters checking out the digs. This is when time is of the essence.
Being on top of the pile of applications gives you the best shot at getting the apartment, but, if you’re unprepared, the person frantically filling out their application on the kitchen counter will soon be preparing their meals in the place that slipped through your fingers. Find a standard application online and print out a few copies. Fill out all your information and bring them with you to view an apartment. If you love it, you won’t be scrambling to pull everything together to try and beat all those other people looking at the same time.
If this is your first apartment, you won’t have former landlords who will vouch for your good standing. In that case, ask three trusted people in your life who will give you a glowing human review. If possible, try to have a varying of ages. A boss, good friend, co-worker or former teacher are all awesome choices. Just make sure you check with them beforehand so they’re not caught off-guard.
Lead image via Getty
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