What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment – A Quick Guide

November 16, 2021Taking Care of Your Home
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

According to iPropertyManagement, over a third of Americans are renting their homes. There are plenty of benefits of renting, the biggest one being that you’re free to move to a different place whenever you want without a significant financial investment. If you’re about to become a renter, you’re probably wondering: What do you need to rent an apartment? We made a quick guide to make it easier for you to keep track of all the requirements.

There are more than 2,600 new renters each day, and all of them had to go through the main requirements to rent an apartment. If you have some unanswered questions and dilemmas about the process of choosing between apartments, landlords, and applications, we’re here to help. Follow our guide and sign a lease in no time.

What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment – the First Item on the List Is to Find an Area You Like

Before you even start gathering documents needed for your future lease agreement, you have to decide what you want, what your preferences would be, and what’s out of the question. The answers to all the dilemmas when deciding where to live will most likely depend on your reasons to move – if you’re relocating to a new home because you want to move from a house to an apartment, you won’t look for single-family homes in the suburbs. And vice versa – you won’t be moving to a small town if you’re searching for a condo in the middle of a business district. Answer some questions in our “Where Should I Move” quiz and decide whether you wish to be in a small community or you’re thinking about moving to a big city. Also, see if you should look for a studio flat or a bigger space. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can browse the housing market online via websites such as Craigslist or Zillow.


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Compare the Cities and Neighborhoods You Like According to Your Budget

Another crucial thing that will impact the choice of your future address or house is the fact that you can afford to live in it. If you still haven’t decided where you will reside after moving out of state, you can compare the costs you’ll have and make a decision that way. There’s a handy website called Numbeo that has data for the cost of living in almost every part of the world. Use it to see your future expenses and opt to move to a place that fits both your moving budget and your expectations.

Are You Willing to Have Roommates?

Even if you find a place that looks perfect, but you can’t afford it, it doesn’t have to be the end of that story. If you don’t have a problem sharing space with a roommate or several roommates, you’re good to go. You can split the costs with them and afford a place of your choice.

Roommates after moving long-distance
If you don't have a high income, you can split costs with roommates and submit applications for apartments together

What Are the Essential Questions to Ask Before Renting an Apartment?

Before you start dealing with transferring utilities or deciding what to get rid of, take the time to learn some important questions you should ask your prospective landlords before signing a contract.

How Long Is the Lease Term?

Different building managers and landlords have different criteria for how long a tenant must stay in the home. This period can sometimes be six months, but it can also happen that someone asks you to stay for more than a year. The best possible option is to have a flexible rental agreement lease term, but if that’s not the case, make sure you’re aware of the shortest period you must stay there.

Check With the Landlord What’s Included in the Monthly Price

After you’re done with the house hunting tips, and you’ve found the one, ask if any bills are included in the amount you’ll be paying or if there are additional costs. If you see that some utilities are included, be specific and check which ones. That will help you plan your finances better and be ready for your monthly costs.

Are There Any Deposits?

Another part of learning how to move to a new city is to be aware of the possible deposits you’ll have to pay. There are several different kinds of deposits:

  • Security deposit – The amount of money you have to give landlords when you enter the place. It usually equals the amount of one monthly rent and is refundable. However, if you damage the home in any way, the landlord will use that money to pay for repairs.
  • Earnest deposit – It’s a kind of reservation for a flat in case you can’t afford it at the moment, but you plan on renting it in the near future.
  • Pet deposit – If you plan on taking your pet with you, some landlords might ask for extra money to guarantee that the animal won’t do any damage.
  • Utility deposit – Some renters delay paying utilities, which causes some landlords to ask for an amount of money for potential unpaid bills.

Check if Renters Insurance Is Obligatory

This mustn’t be one of the things you forget to do when you move. Remember to ask about renters insurance – is it necessary, and when should you get it. A renters insurance policy protects household items from potential theft, fire, flood, or some other peril, so it’s very useful to have it, and it might even be mandatory.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Rent an Apartment?

Another thing you should know is whether or not you’re eligible for renting. Different states might have different laws, but in general, you should be eighteen or older. There can be exceptions for students, military personnel, and the like. Talk to the landlord to see if you might be too young to submit a rental application.

Knowing if Pets Are Allowed Is Another Thing You Need to Think About

As soon as you start searching for your future home, you’ll notice that there aren’t many property owners who allow animals. There are also different types of pet policies and pet deposits. If you’re planning on relocating with pets, be sure to know all the conditions before you sign anything.

Two dogs in a box before being moved by an auto transport company
Pets aren't allowed in many apartments

What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent an Apartment?

One of the things that are necessary when renting apartments is a good credit score. This number shows the rental company or property manager how responsible you are with money and whether or not you’re a good candidate for a lease. It would be ideal to have a credit score of 620 or higher. If your score is lower, it can indicate that you’re in debt or have trouble meeting deadlines, and you’ll be less likely to be approved for the rental. Landlords use your social security number to run a credit check, so you’ll be required to provide that as well.

Can You Rent an Apartment Without Credit?

If you plan on renting from an individual owner and not a company, they might not ask you to show them your credit card score. However, they will ask for another kind of proof that you can pay for your monthly expenses. That can be proof of employment or another source of income.

What if You Have a Bad Credit Score? A Roommate Can Step in and Save the Day

Before you start making friends in a new city, you’ll have to get proof that you’re eligible to pay for your monthly costs. With a bad score, that can be harder. In case you’ve learned how to organize important documents at home and saw that your current score is lower than 620, you can deal with that by getting a co-signer and/or a roommate. The more people with higher card scores, the higher the chance that you’ll get the flat you want.

Roommates after getting auto transport services and moving to a new apartment
Even with a bad card score, you can still get the place you want if you have a roommate

Turn in Your Rental History and Letters of Reference With the Rental Application

Other documents on your list of relocation essentials are rental history and letters of reference. If you’re not a first-time renter, try to provide documents that prove your previous rental history. These aren’t just addresses and contact information but also proof that you paid for your bills and rents on time.

Letters of reference are also very beneficial and can get you to win over the competition and get the place you want. If your previous landlords saw you as a good tenant, it wouldn’t be bad to have proof of that.

a blank piece of paper
Your landlord would love to see good reference letters and your rental history

What Do You Need to Rent an Apartment for the First Time?

Are you having anxiety about moving out because you’re a first-time renter? Then you should know the answers to the question of What do you typically need to get an apartment? Here’s a list of all paperwork you have to have:

  • Proof of identification,
  • Proof of income – your pay stubs,
  • Proof of residence,
  • Social security number,
  • Credit score higher than 620,
  • Vehicle registration if you’re planning to use the parking and car insurance.

In the video below, you can check out some more useful tips for first-time renters.

YouTube video

Are You Planning to Rent in Another State?

If you’re wondering What do I need to rent an apartment because you’re moving to a new state, the situation becomes a bit more complicated. If you can’t go and see the apartments in person before relocating out of state, make sure to have a person you trust that can do that for you. Then, once you decide which place you want to live in, you can start dealing with all that we listed above.

Another essential thing to do is hire a reputable relocation company to transport your belongings and provide you with door-to-door auto transport or terminal-to-terminal car shipping. If you decide to get car shipping services, choose between an open trailer or a more expensive enclosed auto transport. That way, you’ll have a stress-free move and enjoy the whole experience.

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