Found Your Dream Apartment? Make Sure You Get It!

Last we heard from Katherine, she had just lost out on her dream apartment. Luckily, she’s found another one and shares with us the process of making sure that she got  the lease.

So, finally after logging a lot of man-hours, I’ve finally found an apartment in the city of angels. I have my own room, there are hardwood floors you could eat off of and it’s close to work, which as any Angelino knows is priority numero uno when finding your perfect pad. Upon discovering it, my roommate and I wanted it like a fat kid wants candy. I wanted it so badly I even had dreams about it (yeah, it went that far). Little did we know there is a whole mess of things that need to be sorted before you can move in.

After you find the apartment, that doesn’t mean you have it. Far from it. There could be other applicants competing with you. There could be mold in the ceiling. There could be lead based paint in the kitchen. There could be a crazy next-door neighbor who pickles cat feet (true urban legend). You can see the finish line, but there are numerous hurdles to jump before signing that lease.

Here are some items that you need to be aware of as well as some things the landlord will be looking for from you:

Step 1: You find the apartment, you love it, you ask for an application.

You: make sure you really do like it and it’s in your price range because applications cost money, usually anywhere from $10-25.

Landlord: they will probably tell you that someone else is applying in hopes of speeding up your application process. Just something to keep in mind before you panic.

Step 2: Filling out the application.

You: there will be quite a few suspicious looking items on the application, especially if you’ve never filled one out before. These are totally normal and necessary for the credit check, which is the information landlords care most about. Trust me, I’m paranoid about privacy and even I gave them my social. If you aren’t working, don’t have a credit card, or don’t have good credit mention that you’ll have a guarantor on the application (note: this will usually be your parents, but could be anyone who says that they will cover the rent should you be unable to).

Here is a helpful list of what to have handy for your application:

  • -Your social security number
  • -Your checking and savings account numbers (calm down, these are on every check you write)
  • -Your credit cards
  • -Any loans you might have

Landlord: the landlord is hoping that you have good credit and a source of income. That’s really all he cares about. You can check your credit score on for free so that you are aware of your score going in. Anything about 650 is considered to be good. Bonus points for above 750.

Step 3: The rental agreement.

You: this is a binding contract, so make sure you read it carefully because once your name is on that dotted line, all the problems with the apartment become your responsibility. Any improvements or issues you and the landlord discussed previously should be written on the agreement prior to signing. Otherwise he can tell you that he’ll install a new refrigerator or fix that fan, but he isn’t obligated to do it. So before you sign, make sure you do these things:

  • -Flush all toilets
  • -Turn on all lights
  • -Turn on the stove and the oven
  • -Use the garbage disposal
  • -Turn on all faucets
  • -Open all drawers and windows
  • -Check for mold
  • -Plug something in all outlets
  • -Note the condition of any scratched floors, sinks, tubs, windows etc
  • -Write down any improvements the landlord agreed to make with a specific deadline for said improvements

You will feel like a douchebag when you do all these things, but it’s worth it.  A little imposition up front can go a long way. And it’s your life and your living space, so get over it!

Landlord: He will want you to sign the lease as quickly as possible and probably pressures you to do so, but stand firm. He will already have your security deposit so his “fears” aren’t really valid.

Doing all of these things upfront should put you in a good position going forward; now you can focus on finding that perfect kitchen table or giant flat screen TV. If anybody has any nightmare experiences in this apartment and things they learned from those experiences please share!


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Comments (5)

  1. Avatar Ashley

    “You will feel like a douchebag when you do all these things, but it’s worth it.” LMAO! I just looked at an apartment and I did MOST of these things and I DID feel like a D-bag but it did calm my nerves a bit :) I’ll make sure to conquer the rest of this list before I sign the lease tomorrow! Thanks!

  2. Avatar Carly

    I just stumbled upon this in Pinterest – and I am SO glad I did! In about a month I am moving from Maryland to North Carolina and renting my first apartment. I am going through the application process now and this post has definitely helped me! Thanks for putting it together.

  3. Avatar Philly Apartments

    Maybe you already have a hint if the area you plan to live in have good apartments that are hard to come by. So, if you already like the apartment, you should already take it. Make sure you always bring along your check because you never know when a faster buyer/renter will come along.

  4. Avatar Tyler Deitz

    Great post, this is definitely something that people overlook. We wrote a similar article, but it was missing some of the “Step 3” items. It is very important to make sure the apartment is in working order before signing, that’s a great checklist.