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Before You Rent Your Next Apartment

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Whether you are just starting out and searching for your first apartment, or an experienced renter in need of a new place, looking for a new apartment can be an exciting process. You may already know what you want in an apartment and may already have your heart set on a specific location or neighborhood.

However, some aspects of finding an apartment and renting are not exactly enjoyable. While renting an apartment is often cheaper and quicker than buying a home, getting approved for a rental isn’t always easy. There are a number of things you must keep in mind, as well as steps you can take, to help make the process simpler.

Things to Know Before Renting

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1. Some Landlords Require Good Credit History

People with low credit scores often apply for apartment rentals because they can’t get approved for mortgage loan. However, renting an apartment also involves an application process that may include a credit check, a landlord reference and income verification. Many of the larger apartment communities will have minimum credit score requirements.

2. Rent Doesn’t Help Your Credit Score

If you’re looking to improve your credit to qualify for a mortgage loan in the near future, understand that rent payments don’t help your FICO credit score. Your landlord is a creditor, and you’re obligated to make your rental payments on time. However, the majority of landlords do not report to the credit bureaus unless you have been evicted or have a substantial balance. Thus, your credit report will not reflect your apartment agreement or your rental payment history.

If you need a credit score boost, getting a credit card or auto loan is your best bet. These creditors update credit reports on a monthly basis, and your timely payments help add points to your score.

3. Your Rent Can Increase

Signing a one-year lease guarantees your rental rate during that specific rental period. However, after your initial contract term, some apartment landlords may offer you a renewal with an increased rent rate. Seasoned renters are aware of periodic rent increases, but if you’re a first-time renter, rent increases can catch you off-guard and impact your personal finances if funds are already tight. Plan for rent increases by selecting an apartment with a monthly rent that’s below your rental budget so that you can handle increases if you plan to rent for a few years.

Steps to Take Before Renting

1. Get Renters’ Insurance

Don’t think that you don’t need insurance simply because you’re a renter. If a natural disaster or fire destroys your apartment, the landlord’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings.

You can obtain renters’ insurance from any local insurance agent. The monthly premiums are relatively cheap, and $50,000 worth of coverage costs approximately $25 per month. This insurance covers your belongings against theft and damage. Displacement coverage may also be offered.

2. Evaluate the Property and Neighborhood

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You should choose a neighborhood that’s convenient and comfortable. Some first-time renters make a hasty decision and sign a lease without fully checking out the area and its proximity to their work place, schools, shopping or any other points of interest.

Don’t rush the rental process. Before committing to an apartment, visit the community during different times of the day – perhaps in the evenings and on the weekends when most of the residents are at home. Is the area quiet? Do you feel comfortable? If possible, talk to some of the people in the community and get their opinions of the neighborhood.

3. Read Your Lease

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Yes, leases can be long and boring and it can take a while to read the entire agreement. However, it is a legal document and once you sign your name, it is a done deal. Apartment managers typically go through each page and explain it in detail. You may even request a copy ahead of time so that you can read it at your leisure. Make sure that you agree with all of the terms, and if necessary, ask questions!

Final Word

Don’t let eagerness to find a new apartment result in a bad decision. There’s nothing worse than being locked into a one-year lease and being subject to unfavorable conditions. When compared to buying a home, renting an apartment doesn’t seem like a such a big deal – but it’s still a major decision. The more you know about the process, the easier it becomes.

If you are looking for an apartment in the greater Ann Arbor area, please contact RentFAST, a FREE apartment locating service and a division of the Charles Reinhart Company.

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Starting Your Rental Search in the Ann Arbor Area

Whether you are moving because of a job transfer, a personal relationship, or for a fresh start, it can be an overwhelming process. Before you spend lots of time online looking at numerous websites for a house, apartment, or other rental property ask yourself these questions first.

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How soon do you need to move in?
Rentals move quickly in the Ann Arbor area. It is recommended that you start looking around 60 days before you need you need to move. If you are looking for a campus rental they usually rent out about a year in advance. Don’t wait to enlist the help of an expert.

How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like?
Along with location and square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms can have an impact on the price of rental units.

What is your desired price range?
Supply and demand have significantly increased the average rental rate in Ann Arbor. Properties that rent for less than $1000.00/month are in especially short supply.

Can you be flexible about location?
If you are willing to expand your search area you may have more options. Popular Ann Arbor neighborhoods, such as Kerrytown and the Old West Side are a rare find.

Pet
Do you have pets?
Many rentals do not allow pets. If pets are welcome, they are usually limited in the number, size and breed. Make sure you disclose any pets you have before showing appointments are requested.

How is your credit?
Resolve any outstanding credit issues now because you can assume it will be checked by the landlord or leasing company.

Length of lease?
One year leases are standard for the area. Short-term leases are difficult to find but may be available in our represented apartment communities. We also have partnered with Extended Stay hotels in the area and can even pass along our discounted special rates.

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Do you have special needs?
If you can’t live without a dishwasher, in-home laundry, covered parking, a particular floor level, outdoor space or something else, please be sure to let us know so we can tailor our search for you.

Scheduling showings.
Occupied single-family homes and condos typically require 24-48 hours’ notice to see because the current tenants have to approve the showing. Many apartment communities have model units that can be shown during leasing office hours

After answering all the questions above you are now ready to begin your search. Our professional property management team will take the worry and hassle out of finding the perfect rental home. We have access to every rental property currently listed and can make finding a rental hassle-free experience.

Contact one of our experienced residential property managers to begin making your move by calling (734)669-4100.

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