Renting an apartment is a complicated process. Getting an apartment of your choice can be difficult if there is an upward trend of renting instead of buying real estate. Rents go up and leasing communities are less flexible about the terms of lease. On the other hand when rents go down and there is a rise in rental vacancies, potential tenants are able to bargain better.
Renting an apartment in U.S. is easy as there are systematic procedures for visiting properties. You need to set up an appointment before you go. On the date of appointment, you will be given a property tour and information about amenities on the property. Many communities have large signs displaying ‘Leasing Now’ and welcome walk-in visitors.
Some useful tips on renting an apartment are given below.

Unit & Property Features

Before visiting the property check for the following unit and property features.

  • location, nearness to markets, freeways, and hospitals
  • nearness to place of work or school
  • pet policy
  • air conditioner/heater
  • carpeting/wood floors
  • cable ready
  • dishwasher/microwave
  • walk in closets/coat closet
  • view from the apartment
  • community laundry room/independent washer/dryer in each unit
  • clubhouse
  • child care
  • playground
  • pool
  • sauna/spa
  • tennis courts
  • onsite management
  • onsite security
  • parking facilities/additional parking
  • extra storage
  • garbage disposal

Photo ID

Always carry a valid photo ID if you are going to tour some properties. You can carry the driver’s license/identification card. If you are new to the country, you can carry your passport as well.

Credit Report

Be prepared for evaluation of your credit report (score). Based on your credit score your application for rental will be accepted, declined or accepted on additional conditions. People with no credit history or low credit scores may be required to give one or two months security deposit.

Background Check

The leasing officer may do a background check and verify your income. This is to ensure that you do not have a criminal background and have enough income to rent the property. You may be asked to give photocopies of three recent pay stubs or bank statements. You will be asked to give a one-time non refundable fee for the process of income verification.

Rental Agreement

You must discuss the detailed process of renting, lease terms, deposits, fees, etc with your friends to understand the process.
Before you sign the rental agreement, check the following items:

  • The beginning date and expiration date of the lease
  • The monthly rental
  • Inclusion/exclusion of heat, water, electricity, disposal in the rent
  • Move-in specials
  • Security deposit
  • Criteria for return of your security deposit
  • Care instructions
  • Break-lease clause (this specifies what penalty does the resident have to pay if he moves out of the unit before the lease expiration date)
  • Pet policy
  • Parking
  • Any addendum to the rental agreement

Be Patient

You may not find your dream home in the first visit. You must be patient during the process of apartment hunting. The upside is that you get to see many apartment communities and beautiful model homes.