When you're looking to rent an apartment, there are so many things to think about. Some, like location and price, are pretty obvious, but there are other things that first-time renters might not even think to consider, like credit scores and negotiating rent.
So I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share what they wish they'd known before renting their first apartment, and their responses are a must-read for renters:
1. "Consider your future expenses. Make sure you’ve calculated all of the future bills you’ll incur: utilities, internet, food, cleaning supplies, basic toiletries, etc. I remember when I first moved out, I didn’t realize how much utilities would be. So I wouldn’t turn on the AC. I would sit in a room and have a fan blowing and tried hard not to move a lot."
2. "Check EVERYWHERE for possible bug infestation."
Not sure what to look for? Check out these tips for spotting pests when you're touring an apartment or house, and you can also ask the property manager what their policy is for dealing with bugs and rodents.
4. "Check the water pressure in the shower, and check that the hot water actually gets hot, and does so in a reasonable amount of time."
5. "I really wish I would've know that just because you can get into your apartment without any trouble doesn't mean your furniture can!!"
It's a great idea to not just measure the living space in a unit but also measure the width of the doorways. Some buildings, especially older ones, have really narrow doors, and you don't want to find this out the hard way on your move-in day.
6. "Don't visit once if you're considering long-term tenancy. Visit at different times on different days when possible. Pay attention to traffic, rush hour, opening times of local eateries, whether you feel safe (early in the AM and late at night), etc."
"I wish I did that when I rented a house next to a cemetery. I assumed it'd be quiet as a mouse. Nope. Constant daytime traffic, noisy (especially at night), church visitors for morning, afternoon and evening services, Halloween visitors, etc.
Basically, the cemetery had a better social life than mine."
7. "I live in a downtown area and thought I would be OK with no parking included, but, man, it really sucks having to run errands and get stuff done before 2 p.m. in order to get a good parking spot 😭. My next place will 100% include parking!!!"
8. "Make sure your packages will be delivered safely to your apartment or stored in an area that they won’t be stolen."
9. "I wish I had asked about the neighbors and how the company handles complaints, especially noise complaints. I moved into my first place in February, and the tour was exceptionally quiet, but the very night I moved in, my downstairs neighbor started screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs for hours, and it has not stopped."
"I've complained, asked to move units, claimed they are breaking the lease agreement, etc...and have gotten nowhere. From now on, I am definitely going to inquire about noise levels and how those issues will be handled, because it can be a serious hindrance on anyone's life."
10. "The owner of the property matters as much as the place itself. Research your potential management company or landlord to see if there are complaints about them online. Search public records to see if there have been any housing violations at the property, and take that info seriously!"
11. "Having your credit checked by multiple applications can lower your credit. I applied to five or six apartments before getting accepted in Austin, but the quick succession of checks on my credit report lowered my credit by nearly 100 points. Not to mention each place charged $100–$200 for application fees. So make sure you know your credit situation beforehand, and only apply to places you know you 1,000% qualify for."
Some property managers run a soft inquiry (which doesn't affect your credit scores), but others opt for a hard inquiry (which can lower your scores temporarily). If you're shopping around for an apartment or comparing rates on a loan, FICO's credit model will consolidate multiple hard inquiries into one as long as they take place within 30 days of each other. Similarly, the Vantage credit-scoring model consolidates multiple hard inquiries as long as they happen within 14 days. So if your apartment search goes quickly, you shouldn't see a big hit to your scores. If you're concerned about hard inquiries impacting your credit, you can always ask the landlord or property manager which kind of inquiry they plan to run before you apply.
12. "Everything is negotiable! I told a landlord that I wouldn't even apply unless they waived the monthly parking fee. Once I had that in writing, I applied and was approved but wouldn't sign the contract unless or until they agreed to a zero deposit or half deposit."
Not sure where to start? Check out these handy tips for negotiating your rent.
13. "If you negotiate something with the landlord prior to signing, DO NOT sign a contract until that negotiation is reflected in the papers, and keep your copy."
14. "Get renters' insurance. It’s just as important as getting homeowners' insurance. It covers your property if there is theft or damage. And also it covers you if someone is in your home and gets hurt."
15. "Take a picture of EVERYTHING when you first move in: walls, windows, ceilings, doors, floors, appliances, outlets — in every room! Some (…in my experience, most) landlords will really try to blame you for anything 'wrong' with your apartment at the end of your lease."
"Drive around the complex/community/neighborhood/etc. at various times of day to see the activity in the area, and if it suits your lifestyle (quiet/stay in their apartments crowd vs. stay out until 2 a.m. partying crowd).
If you’re able, take a friend/guardian/S.O. with you to initially see the apartment to help ask questions and feel out the place.
Do not be afraid to ask questions or speak to the potential neighbors if you see them out and about! In my experience, they’ve always been more than happy to HONESTLY talk about their experience there (the landlord, the neighbors, the local cuisine) compared to the landlord or whoever is giving you the initial tour."
16. "If you have to pay rent in person every month, take a video! This has saved my ass more than once. Management tried to add late fees or claim they never received rent at more than one complex I lived. Having video proof shut that down quick."
17. "Make sure you have at least two months' rent saved. I moved, then got a job where they paid us on the 5th of the month once a month. Because I didn’t have enough savings, I ended up paying my rent late almost every month, which added up to late fees."
"Also, if you have a weird job like that, see if your landlord is willing to be flexible with you when it comes to the day rent should be paid."
Need to start saving or give your savings a boost? Check out these tips for growing your emergency fund.
18. And finally, "If something that is included in your rent is not working, such as a stove, fridge, plumbing, electrical, etc., contact the landlord and ask that it be repaired. It's not 'complaining'; those things are included in your rent and should operate properly, so don't be afraid to speak up."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
Now it's your turn. What's something you saw while touring an apartment that was a total deal breaker for you? Tell us all about it in the comments.
And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.