Renting Your First Apartment: A Step-by-Step Budgeting Guide

Renting your first apartment can be daunting. It is important to understand the process and what it involves before making the commitment.

One of the first things you will have to consider is your budget. You will need to figure out how much you can comfortably spend on rent each month, which includes living expenses and discretionary spending.

Budgeting for Your First Apartment 

When looking for your first apartment, it’s important to think about the total costs of living in that space. One way to do this is by creating a budget. This is easy to do using a budgeting app or online tool. Simply figure out how much you’re earning per paycheck, subtract your debt payments and other expenses from that number, and then add a little extra in case of emergencies or what-ifs.

You can also factor in other potential costs, like furniture or utilities. If you’re on a tight budget, it may be smart to look for second-hand items or wait until you can find good deals on new appliances and furnishings.

Another consideration is location. Be sure to check out local real estate market trends and rent prices, as these can change over time. Also, make sure you’re comfortable with the distance to work and other amenities, including convenient parking. Having a budget in place can help demystify the apartment renting process and avoid any unexpected surprises.

Apartment Lease Agreements 

Apartment lease agreements are legally binding documents that include the terms and conditions of your tenancy. These contracts may cover such aspects as the rent amount and stipulations regarding maintenance, pets and subletting. If you encounter a term you disagree with, try to reach an agreement with your landlord and document it as best as possible in case there is ever a dispute.

Most masteri thao dien landlords require potential tenants to pay a security deposit, which is typically equal to a month’s rent in New York State. Additionally, you might be required to pay first and last months’ rent and an application fee. Some apartments also charge a pet deposit and/or additional monthly pet rent.

Before signing a lease, drive around the community/building at different times of day to see how active it is (quiet residents vs. partying crowd). If you’re bringing a friend with you, he or she can help ask questions and assess whether the apartment is a good fit for your lifestyle.

Setting Up Utilities in a New Apartment 

When you first rent an apartment, it’s essential to think about all your recurring monthly expenses, including utilities. It’s often cheaper to have electric, gas, trash, water and cable/internet included in your apartment rental — however, you’ll need to set up these services.

Most apartments include electricity in their monthly rent, but this is not the case for natural gas. You may need to contact a company that provides natural gas for your area and schedule a time for technicians to come out and connect the line.

Landlords typically require a rental application and deposit, and may also conduct background checks and credit checks on tenants. They’ll look at your employment and income verifications, pay stubs, references, and bank statements to determine if you are eligible for the apartment. If you don’t have any credit or rental history, you may need to provide a co-signer who does have credit and a good financial track record.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities 

Tenants have certain rights and responsibilities, which are derived from both federal and state law. These rights include the right to a safe, livable apartment. They also include the right to receive timely repair requests, and to report violations of laws that protect them.

For example, the Fair Housing Act and New York City’s Division of Human Rights prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, or source of income. Landlords can only refuse to rent a unit on such grounds if they have an acceptable reason and give the tenant advance written notice.

The law (called a “warranty of habitability”) states that “Every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential premises, including mobile homes, contains a covenant and warranty by the owner or operator that the dwelling is fit for human habitation.” The landlord must make necessary repairs in a reasonable time after getting a request from tenants.