10 Important Things to Consider Before Renting an Apartment

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Renting an apartment is a cumbersome process! The fees accumulate, the paperwork becomes complicated, they investigate your life’s history, and each complex and its ownership possess its own unique personality. The price you pay for the apartment, high or low, means nothing. Bad property managers and owners come at every price, and pests could care less about the neighborhood where your apartment resides. However, our team from Royal Moving & Storage Inc is here to help! Let’s unravel the chaos with a list of ten things you should consider before renting an apartment. This way, nothing will come as a surprise during the process. You can protect yourself from incredulous property management, and you can have the best possible solutions available as you search for your next residence.

#1 You Have Rights and Laws on Your Side as a Tenant

First, as an apartment tenant, legislation protects you against many unpleasant situations. For instance, you have the right to peace and quiet. The lawmakers refer to it as “quiet enjoyment,” and this basic right states that they cannot evict you without cause in the middle of a lease because it disrupts your right to live in peace.

You are also safeguarded against the wrongful behavior of other tenants. Their noise, their trash, and their overall inconsiderate nature should never be your problem by law. Consider before renting an apartment in a particular building the level of hygiene and security, and talk to the tenants to make an informed choice. 

A Young Couple Sitting in a Living Room Full of Cardboard Boxes before renting an apartment
Being well-informed about your tenant rights can make your renting experience smoother and more secure.

#2 Your Landlord Must Provide You with a Healthy, Safe, and Secure Environment

You are also afforded the rights of health and safety, and security. In most states, a justice of the peace has the authority to order repairs that affect your health and safety. You can get this done by simply going to justice court and requesting a repair order. You do not need a lawyer to do this! In addition, it is the law that your landlord must provide you with basic security items. Those include:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Window latches
  • Deadbolts
  • Door viewers
  • Pin locks
  • Security bars 

If you are just starting your independent life and moving with local movers Los Angeles offers, and this would be the first apartment you’d lease, ask local authorities for advice. Knowing how some of these security measures work will ensure you feel safe and secure in your new home. 

#3 Don’t Sign a Yearlong Lease Without Doing Diligent Research

First of all, you shouldn’t have to plead with your landlord to fulfill their obligations to provide you with a peaceful and quiet residence. You also shouldn’t have to visit courthouses to resolve matters of health, safety, and security. No one wants to be a hostile tenant because of a neglectful landlord, and you can find that tranquil oasis where no landlord takes advantage of you. You never have to worry about your security and overall happiness.

Researching the landlord and the building complex is something you have to consider before renting an apartment. Surely, you will be looking for convenience and whether or not the apartment is close to your work or school. However, that won’t matter if you can’t sleep at night because a moment of quiet is nowhere to be found or you have anxiety over your general safety and security!

A Person Holding a Bunch of Keys
Researching your prospective landlord is an important step toward ensuring a positive and fair rental experience.

Online apartment guides are fine, but they don’t include every apartment you might come across. Apartment building owners often pay for ad placements on their Websites, which leaves one wondering about their objectivity. The reviews on these sites aren’t always as valid as those you might find by using websites like Apartmentratings.com. Sites like this rank complex on a five-point scale and rate individual factors like noise, safety, grounds, maintenance, neighborhood, and office staff.

They also include the percentage of people who “recommend” the property against the city average. You will read the reviews from previous tenants of the apartment you are looking to lease here. The same applies when looking for a moving company. Read moving reviews on independent platforms as well as their own websites to understand the level of professionalism of your chosen moving companies.

#4 There are Fee Limits on a Security Deposit

Another thing to learn before renting an apartment: most states do not have a statute for how much an apartment can charge for a security deposit. However, some states set a limit of one or two months. The deposit is a safeguard for landlords in case the tenant breaks the rental agreement or violates the terms of the lease.

Additionally, the fee covers the cost of any damage to the apartment while the resident lives there. It can also cover cleaning costs and key replacement. In most situations, the security deposit is never more than one month’s rent. In some cases, tenants with poor credit are charged for two months. If the deposit goes beyond the price of one month’s rent, then you can question the landlord because it is rare. If the sum goes beyond two months’ rent, you might be dealing with a shady property owner.

A Happy Family Looking at the Furry Animal on the Couch
When moving, it’s crucial to ensure a comfortable transition for our beloved pets too.

However, having a pet will cost you more. Typically, a pet fee is from $200 to $500. This isn’t the same as a deposit because the damage your animal causes will usually come out of your standard deposit instead. In other words, a pet fee is more like pet rent. If the pet fee goes beyond $500, the property owner is basically telling you they don’t want pets in the apartment.

Consider before renting an apartment if the landlord is fine with you bringing in your pet. Don’t forget to mention to your residential movers Los Angeles has to offer that you have a pet! That way, they will know to be extra careful during the packing and loading process so they don’t startle your pet. 

#5 How to Get Your Security Deposit Back?

Every state mandates that the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within a reasonable amount of time, and the timeframe typically ranges from 30 to 60 days. However, some states require a quicker turnaround of two to three weeks. If you paid your rent on time, have no pending rent or late charges, and left the apartment with limited wear and tear and no damage, you should receive a full refund of your deposit. In case the refund is less than the total amount you paid, the landlord must provide an itemized list that specifies every cost they charged you, from cleaning to repairs.

To get your deposit back, make sure you fill out the Apartment Inspection Checklist during the first few days of your lease, and return it to your landlord within the time they require, which is normally a week. Ask the property owner or management for repairs that you need immediately, inspect for mold, and mark every imperfection down, from spots on the carpet to nail holes in the wall.

A checklist in a notebook needed before renting an apartment
A comprehensive checklist can be a lifesaver during the often chaotic apartment hunting process.

Make a copy of the checklist for yourself, and on the day you move out of the apartment, clean it thoroughly or hire a cleaning service to do the work. Before working with your furniture movers Los Angeles company, look for a recommendation for a reliable cleaner. Then, request that your landlord walk with you through the apartment to do a final inspection to assure that you do not pay for any damage that you didn’t cause.

#6 Other Fees and Expenses to Consider Before Renting an Apartment

Your credit history will be inspected, and your landlord will perform a background check before your lease is approved. A third party performs the investigation, and those screenings cost money, which will be passed on to you. The application fee is anywhere from $30 to $50 per applicant. In other words, if more than one adult is living in the residence, each person will pay a separate fee.

Many apartments refund the fee once you are approved to rent the apartment, and the amount either goes toward the security deposit or back into your pocket. That can come in handy during the moving process, as there are always more things to spend money on, like getting a storage unit in Los Angeles. Also, a good thing about this is that the leasing agent will temporally take the apartment off the market for you during the background check. 

#7 You’ll Undergo a Criminal Background Check When Leasing an Apartment

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates fair practices regarding leasing an apartment. Their laws assure citizens that they will not discriminate against them based on race, gender, disability, religion, or nation of origin, among other factors. One in four American citizens possesses a criminal record, whether small or large, and denying housing due to a criminal background is considered discrimination.

So, if they use your criminal background as an excuse to deny your application, you are being discriminated against. The property management must communicate all denials to you orally or in writing, and if you believe a landlord has violated your rights to lease an apartment, report it to the FTC.

Person in White Long Sleeve Shirt Holding Credit Card before renting an apartment
A favorable credit score can open doors to more rental opportunities and better terms.

#8 Your Credit Score and Renting an Apartment

The property owner evaluates your financial health, and that is done through a check of your credit score before renting an apartment. The report is pulled to see how financially responsible you have been through your life. From there, a number of different situations can occur depending on your credit score.

You may have worked hard to pull yourself out of debt and credit issues, but your past will still be visible. It stays anchored to your credit report no matter what. Regardless of your current situation, your past failures alert the landlord to the possibility that you will not pay your rent on time. They might also feel you will bail before the lease is up!

If you have never been evicted and your credit score is 620 or higher, you should have no issues. Anything lower indicates a high risk. While it is possible to improve your credit score, it takes time. In the interim, your application may not be approved, but more likely, the apartment agent will give you some options.

These recourses might include a higher security deposit, proof that you have been paying your rent on time in your current and past place of residence, a co-signer or a roommate with better credit, or solid proof that you have a reliable income. Sometimes, landlords require referrals from different sources.

#9 Utilities That Are Covered and Not Covered When Renting an Apartment

Your rent isn’t the only expense you need to consider when moving into an apartment. Sometimes, your rent already includes basic utilities. At other times, you have to pay an additional expense for utilities, which is added to your monthly rental fee. Typically, there is an extra fee for trash removal and water usage. Electricity is also occasionally provided within the complex and included in your bill.

bills and a notebook
Don’t underestimate the impact of utilities on your monthly budget; they’re an essential consideration when renting an apartment.

Check on all the costs before you book packing services Los Angeles provides, sign any lease, or even before you begin the application process. Find out if you will need to contact utility companies to acquire gas, electricity, and water. Also, check if you are required to maintain rental insurance. Don’t forget about Wifi and cable, which will ding your budget as well.

#10 Hire a Professional Mover or Recruit Your Friends to Help You Move

Before renting an apartment, consider the actual moving process. If your budget does not allow for a professional moving company, rely on your friends and family to help you move. But if you can’t round up a crew, an expert moving company is a must. They offer a relatively low price to safely and efficiently transport your property from your old to the new residence.

The process will save you time, and the moving company will insure your possessions against any breakage or loss. If you decide to use professionals, contact reputable movers as soon as you know your move-in date. This way, you will ensure there are movers readily available on the day of your move. 

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