Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Apartment Hunting – The Decision

Selecting an apartment is an important decision. It will be your home for the next few years. You will be signing a lease agreement binding you to the property. Be confident it is affordable, the apartment you want, and the community you want to call home.

Here are 3 things to consider during phase 2 – The Decision:

1) Submit your application.

Once you find the place and it’s within your budget, apply. Most applications will ask for the following: personal information; employment history; current and previous residence (within the last five years); vehicle information, personal references; credit information (bank and credit); and general background information.

a. Gather documentation. You may be required to submit: photo identification; letter of employment verification (3 recent pay stubs, W2, or letter from the employer); verification of prior residency (addresses from the last five years); and recommendations/references.

b. Check your credit. Management companies will be checking your credit once you start applying. Before they check, you want to know if you have good credit or a few blemishes. Therefore, you will be prepared to explain your poor credit and ask a parent/relative to serve as a co-signer on a lease. Receive a free credit report from Annual Credit Report.

2) Understand your lease agreement.  

Read it carefully. Don’t just sign on the line. Your lease is a contract, so make sure you understand it. Your lease should clarify the rent, terms and duration of your agreement, the penalty for breaking the lease early, the policy for fixing issues with the apartment, how much notice you must give if you want to renew and the rules for getting your security deposit back. If you give a deposit, get a receipt. Often, if you have issues with certain points on the lease, you can alter or discuss them with the management company before signing.

3) Conduct a walk-through.

Thoroughly inspect the apartment before moving your belongings into the space. Take notes to document pre-existing problems you find, so that you are not held liable. Test everything – the stove, oven, faucets, refrigerator, lights, etc. If anything is amiss, write it down. If the management company needs to fix something, get it in writing. This is the best way to protect yourself, your future home, and your security deposit.

Once you are settled in the apartment, start building your community.

Visit the blog next week for tips on Finding Community in a new city.

Category: Professional Development

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