Moving into your first apartment can be an intimidating process. You’re moved out of college, your parents are no longer there to hold your hand and this is your money on the line now. So you need to be more than prepared! Here are a few precautions you should take when signing the lease to your apartment and after moving in.
Signing the Lease
- Know what is included in your lease. Read the lease carefully! Which utilities will be included in your monthly payments? Will cable be provided? How long does your lease last? Perhaps your complex offers cheaper rent if you sign a longer lease?
- Sign the lease with responsible roommates. You need to make sure to pick roommates that will can pay rent on time and who won’t back out causing you to break your lease. Signing a joint lease can also leave you liable for any damage your roommate makes so pick reliable roommates. Your security deposit can be used to cover any damage that you or your roommates made. (In some cases, the security deposit can be waived. Make sure to ask!)
- Know your rights. Believe it or not, as a tenant you have rights. Each state has a handbook that covers tenant rights. You are entitled to certain things that come with renting an apartment.
- Fees. You will always find fees tucked away somewhere out of sight. If you have a pet ask if there are any additional charges. There are other fees that they might add on such as fees to park your car in the parking garage or a fee for the apartment’s gym. Some apartment complexes even charge to pick up your garbage and recycling so beware of those fees and remember to factor them into your budget.
- The way out. Before it’s time to pack up your apartment, ask about breaking your lease. Life happens sometimes and you might need to opt out of living in that apartment or your roommate might flake on you. Either way you need to know what happens when your lease is broken.
- Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or questions. This is your investment. A lease is a legal contract that holds you accountable.
- Photograph any damage. Before you move in your stuff, make sure to do a quick but thorough inspection of your room and document every single observation. Take pictures of any crack, leaks, stains in the carpet, etc. Make sure all the photos have date stamps as well. This will prevent any additional charges when you move out.
- Sign roommate agreements. Type up an agreement among your roommates with guest policies, cleaning schedules, grocery shopping, rent payments, rules for parties, etc. Have everyone sign it so that way there is no room for confusion. If a quarrel occurs, you can refer back to the agreement. Boundaries are important when living with both best friends and new people.
- Customizing your apartment. Even though moving into your first apartment can be very exciting, before you break out the tarp and start painting your walls pink make sure to read your lease again about making alterations to your apartment. You don’t want to have to pay a large fee after moving out of that apartment for using nails in the walls.
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Do you have any tips for people moving into their first apartment? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments below!