Renting an apartment is a large social and financial commitment, and a renter may have a lot of questions running through their mind. How much rent should one expect to pay? What are the other monthly charges? How large of an apartment should be rented? What type of lease term should be considered? What amenities are available? What is nearby the apartment complex?
Luckily there are a lot of resources available to help renters get the most value out of their hard-earned money, and the internet makes it easier than ever to find the answers that help a renter make an informed decision. Below are answers to just a few of the most common questions that both new and veteran apartment renters alike should ask while they are apartment hunting.
1. Can a single person rent a 2 or 3-bedroom apartment?
An individual can rent an apartment that they can afford.Whether that be a single bedroom, or even a 3 bedroom floor plan, many apartment communities will require proof that a renter’s income is high enough to comfortably afford the rental rate of the particular unit type.
The minimum income requirement is usually in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 times the monthly rent. As an example, if the rent of a unit is $800 per month and the apartment community requires an income of three times the rent, the renter would need to make at least $2,400 per month, which is equivalent to $28,800 per year or about $13.70 per hour. This is usually verified through providing check stubs and/or a letter of verification of employment from a supervisor.
If you do not make the minimum income requirements to rent an apartment by yourself, you can combine your income with a roommate or a cosigner that guarantees to pay your rent if you are unable to cover it yourself in a given month.
By renting an apartment with an extra bedroom, you have the flexibility and many options to repurpose the spare room. Just a few ideas are below:
- Home office
- Workout room
- Craft Room
- Game Room
- Extra Storage
- Movie Room
- Home Bar
2. What is a good amount of square footage to have in an apartment?
According to Rentcafe.com, the average apartment size in the United States has been decreasing over the last 10 years. The average square footage of a one-bedroom apartment in the United States is 757 square feet while the average square footage of a two-bedroom apartment is 1,138 square feet.
Townhome-style apartments will generally have much higher square footage than traditional garden or high-rise style apartments. Rentcafe.com has also compiled averages of apartment size by region as shown below.
In addition to the total square footage of the apartment, a renter should also consider the size of each of the individual rooms. The average size for an apartment bedroom is 132 square feet or 11 feet by 12 feet. Consider using one of the virtual room planners below to visualize different square footage and see how to best utilize the space of a room or an apartment you are considering.
3. Which floor of an apartment is best?
The most desirable floor on which to rent a unit of an apartment complex will depend on a number of factors, including personal preference.There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
An apartment located on the bottom floor or ground level will be easier to access and will be easier to load your possessions in and out of, especially in the case of moving large, heavy, or bulky furniture. On a lower floor, you will have a shorter trip to and from your vehicle and will be located closer to a parking lot. You will also likely be located closer to amenities. A disadvantage of having a lower floor apartment is that you may hear your upstairs neighbors when they are walking through their homes.
A top floor or upper-level apartment will eliminate the possibility of hearing noisy upstairs neighbors! You are also more likely to get a better view of property amenities or your surroundings. The downside of living upstairs or on the top floor is that your apartment will be more difficult to access because you will need to take stairs or an elevator each time you leave or return to your home.
4. What are the requirements to qualify for an apartment?
The first step of renting an apartment is to initiate communication with an apartment community that you are interested in. This can be done in person, over the phone, or virtually in the form of Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or other outlets.
A representative of the community will provide information on rental rates, move-in charges, and lease terms. It is encouraged to tour an apartment in the community to ensure that the property, amenities, floor plan, and neighborhood fit your needs.
The key to a successful apartment application is to provide enough information to prove to your potential landlord that you are trustworthy and able to pay rent on time. Here is a list of items you will need for your apartment application:
The most common amounts range from $99 to a full month of rent. Upon moving in, a renter will be responsible for funding the deposit, prorated rent for the month of move in, and other applicable fees including application and administrative fees.
Personal Contact Information
In order to be able to contact you in the event of emergencies, your landlord will require you to provide contact information like a phone number, email or another method.
Social Security Number
In most cases, you will need to provide your landlord with your social security number. This information will aid in the background check.
Drivers License or State ID
Your landlord will need this information in order to prove your identity.
Most apartments will require you to provide information about your vehicle if you are applying for a parking spot. This includes the year, make and model of your vehicle, and in some cases proof of insurance.
Current and Previous Employment Information
This information is necessary for your criminal background check. Your landlord may ask for the company name, phone number and the name of the position you held in order to verify your employment.
Current and Previous Rental Information
Again, this information is necessary for your criminal background check.
Proof of Income
Your landlord may ask for proof of income in the form of pay stubs, tax returns or another form in order to prove you will be able to pay the rent.
5. How common are pet friendly apartments?
Pets friendly apartments are now more common than ever! As apartment living becomes more focused on the renter, more apartment communities and rental homes are realizing that your dog, cat, or other furry friend is a part of the family! In response, they have been adopting more pet-friendly policies.
Landlords will generally require a “pet deposit” due at move-in or at the time that a pet becomes a permanent resident in your home. There may also be a monthly pet rent that is due along with rent and other charges. Typical pet rent can range anywhere from $10 – $60 a month per fur friend. If your pet is considered a service animal due to a disability, the Fair Housing Law prohibits landlords from charging a pet security deposit or rent.
Be sure to ask if there are weight or breed restrictions as some communities will have restrictions against breeds that can potentially cause more damage to the apartment due to their size.
Be sure to ask if the apartment community you are interested in has a dog park or other pet-friendly amenities!
6. Is it better to sign a longer apartment lease?
The standard lease term offered at an apartment complex or in rental homes in 12 months. However, many landlords or managers will offer an option to extend or shorten this standard term length to suit your needs.
Some communities will allow a month-to-month lease, while the shortest available term at other apartment complexes may be a 3-month lease or a 6-month lease. As a rule of thumb, a 12-month lease will be the cheapest, most affordable option and non-standard lease terms will often be subject to additional fees.
Depending on the community, you may be able to get a cheaper monthly rent by accepting a slightly longer or shorter lease term length at the discretion of the community as they will try to avoid having too many move-outs during any single month.
7. Can I rent out my spare room?
Renting your apartment home on a third-party rental site such as Airbnb or Vrbo is a great way to earn extra income if you do not plan on occupying your apartment 100% of the time. However, you will want to read the lease for your apartment community or rental home to ensure subletting or renting out your home is not a violation of the lease.
8. Can apartments be rented for office space?
An apartment provides a great space to work from home or telecommute, but there are many restrictions on running businesses out of a residential apartment or home that vary significantly state by state. It is recommended to confirm with authorities if your jurisdiction permits your particular business can be run from a residential home or apartment before setting up shop.
9. Do apartments limit what you can have on your patio or balcony?
A patio or balcony is a great amenity to look for when considering moving to a new apartment community. What is allowed on your patio or balcony will vary by community and municipality. Most cities do not allow open flame grills, barbecues, or smokers on balconies due to local fire codes.
Hazardous materials are also prohibited on decks or patios at almost all apartment complexes and communities. Larger balconies will allow you to store more of your belongings and will increase the overall storage of your apartment home, which is especially true if you have a patio with a closet.
Most communities encourage decorating your patio or balcony and making it your own! Consider adding patio furniture, an umbrella, or even lights around the holidays to celebrate.
10. Should I get an apartment or room for rent?
Renting an individual room has the advantage of being cheaper and more affordable than renting an apartment, but sacrifices the convenience, flexibility, security, and individual authority of renting a full apartment. If you wish to rent a single room, you will be sharing the kitchen, living room, and potentially a bathroom with a roommate that you may or may not know prior to moving in.
Before deciding to rent a single room, consider the cleaning, sleeping, recreational, and eating habits of your potential roommate. Having your own apartment lets you set the rules, quiet time, and cleaning schedule of your home!
Renting an apartment can be a very stressful and time consuming process, but hopefully this list will provide more insight into what kind of questions you should ask when finding an apartment to rent.