There are many benefits that you can reap if you decide to rent an apartment, a house or condo unit.
For instance, you won’t have to worry about making necessary improvements to the property. Another thing is, renting often comes with a lower monthly cost since you, as a tenant, is not responsible for paying expensive property taxes. Also, renters have the option to renew or move at the end of the lease term
But whether it is your first time or not in the renting world, finding the perfect property that fits both your lifestyle and budget isn’t going to be easy.
Choosing the right property
There are many things involved when finding a place to rent. Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider before you sign away that lease:
1. The price
If you decide to rent an apartment or any type of property, it is important to review your finances before you go property hunting. Make sure you have a budget for the first month, last month and security deposit as most landlords require tenants to pay for them upfront. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests that your lease should not cost more than 30% of your gross income.
2. Type of home
What type of home suits you? Apartment, house, or a condo unit? Many first timers in renting and people who live alone opt for apartments or condo units. But if you are with a family or starting a family then a house would be a preferable option.
When you rent an apartment, another important factor to consider is the location. Of course, you would want an area that would make your life easier. Think if you prefer a quiet suburban street or an urban setting. Decide if you want a place that’s near your work, schools, shops and restaurants, and other attractions.
4. Size and layout
Before you begin your search, consider also the space that you want to have for your place. Think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, if you want a small or big living room to receive guests, updated kitchen, outdoor space like a balcony and parking space if you have a car.
List the extra features you want in your place. Consider if the community is pet-friendly, has swimming pool, fitness gym, tennis or basketball courts, children’s playground, etc.
Requirements to rent an apartment or house
Renter’s application form will be slightly different with each apartment (or property type) you are applying for but these are the common requirements included in every rental application:
1. Proof of income
Most landlords prefer that your income is three times the rent to qualify and you'll need to prove that you have indeed this income. They generally ask for two or three recent pay stubs, bank statements, tax statements or a W-2 if you've had your job for more than a year. They may also call your employer to get proof of your employment.
2. Credit score
Your credit score speaks a lot about how financially responsible you are. Of course, the higher your credit score the better as the landlord will be more comfortable renting the place to you. If your credit score is not that favorable, you may offer to pay additional security.
3. Background check
You are your background. Aside from your credit score, your background also shows your personality and dependability. With your permission, landlords will look into your criminal record and to see whether you’ve ever been evicted. Previous violent crimes, domestic abuse records, eviction and the likes may cause concern to landlords and won’t compromise. You will have a difficult time finding a place to rent.
You might need to secure a co-signer if you have new or low credit or if you are a first-time renter. Some landlords may also request this if your income is not at least 3 times the rent amount. A co-signer or a guarantor is someone with a good credit who signs your lease along with you and assumes financial and legal responsibility for paying the rent in case you don’t.
5. Reference letter
This letter can be from a previous landlord, property agent or someone from your network who can vouch for your good personality, work ethics and how responsible you are. A strong reference helps you be on top the game.
Documents to prepare
Each landlord has different requirements but here are the paperwork that you will almost always need:
- Photo ID (driver’s license or passport)
- Letter of employment
- Copies of last two pay stubs
- Copies of last three bank statements
- Copies of last two tax returns
- Copies of last two W-2 forms
- Asset documents (official documents with the value of assets, stocks, real estate, etc.)
- Contact information (your social security number, email, addresses of previous landlords, your current employer and your guarantor, if applicable)
- Recommendations from previous landlords/personal or professional references (optional)
- Co-signer application (if applicable)
- Vehicle information
- Pet information (if any)
After completing the application process and passing the background check, you'll sign the lease agreement. Make sure to read everything carefully and that it includes the things you and the landlord agreed on if there were negotiations.
Ready to rent an apartment? Check out these available rental properties in Kendall, Miami.
Download our FREE Printable Apartment Guide.