If you have plans of renting your first Merced apartment, you may be equally excited and nervous. It’s understandable if you feel this way: after all, there are quite a lot of things to figure out, from finding the right place to making sure you can afford it and everything in between. Make apartment hunting easier by planning some important things in advance. By following these simple steps now, you may be able to find and rent your first apartment like a pro in no time.
Crunch the Numbers
Before you start your apartment search, you would have to figure out how much you can afford. The way to do this is you’ll need to generate a monthly budget that shows all of your income and expenses. Then you can calculate how much rent you can afford. A good guideline is to keep your apartment rent at about 30% of your income after taxes. Make an estimate as to the exact dollar amount. Now examine your budget. Do you have enough money left over after your other expenses to cover that amount? If not, you may need to take some extra steps before you’re ready to start apartment hunting.
Look Beyond the Rent
Figuring out how much monthly rent you can afford is an excellent first step, however, there are other costs involved that you need to be set for. For the most part, you will need to pay a security deposit upfront along with the first month’s rent. The amount of this security deposit will change, but it is often the same amount as the rental payment.
There may even be other deposits and fees, including credit check fees, utility deposits, and extra costs. Plus, you’ll need to find out if utilities are included in the rent or if you will be responsible for paying for your own. Internet, cable, electricity, gas, water, and trash disposal are all common utilities that you’ll need to have enough money to get set up if they aren’t included in the rent. To make things easier, you could think of it this way: you’ll need to have at least 2 – 3 months of rental payments saved up to guarantee that you have what you need to get into your first apartment.
As soon as you’ve got your finances figured out, it’s time to start searching and applying for your first apartment. It’s a good idea to have your application materials prepared before you begin so that when you find a place you like, you’re ready to get that application done quickly. To rent an apartment, you’ll need a list of documents and information.
While this list may vary from place to place, it’s a good idea to have the following available:
- Your last two pay stubs or a bank statement
- Social security number
- Driver’s license or state ID
- Credit report
- Contact information for at least two references
Read the Lease
As you’re going through the rental process, carefully read through all of your lease documents – including the fine print. A lease is a binding legal contract, which means that once you sign it, you will be on the hook for everything that’s in it. Have a clear understanding of your responsibilities, what your landlord will provide, how things like maintenance and repairs will work, and so on. Likewise, check that the rental payment amount, security deposit amount, and other numbers are correct.
Finally, check for any unusual or unexpected rules or clauses to make sure that you are comfortable following the rules stated in the lease. If you have questions about anything you find in your lease, be sure to ask someone you trust. In fact, the more you know about the apartment, the neighborhood, and your landlord before you rent from them, the better off you will be.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.