Apartment Rental Checklist: Some Do’s and Don’ts You Should Know

by Calyn Ehid

Moving into a new apartment is almost always an intensive endeavor. This is true for experienced homeowners moving into a smaller apartment and first-time renters alike. Leases contain important, legally-binding terms and conditions and it is vital for you to understand them all prior to signing.

Are you allowed to paint the walls? Will the landlord pay to replace old appliances or is it your responsibility? Read ahead for a comprehensive apartment rental checklist and discover tips on some do’s and don’ts you should know.

Experienced Movers vs. First-Time Renters

Moving is an intensive process regardless of your prior experience. Experienced movers know what to expect but the intensity of moving often causes people to overlook a few necessities. Creating a checklist of do’s and don’ts is essential to a smooth, timely moving experience.

First-Time Renters

If you are a first-time renter it is especially essential to make a checklist and go over it at least twice. Terms and conditions in your lease legally bind you to how you must treat your apartment and financial penalties imposed if you breach your lease. Leases also include terms about visitors, noise levels, working from home and the number of people allowed to legally live in your apartment. Moving alone is challenging. Moving with a partner either alleviates or exacerbates stress depending on how the move is planned. Organization and cooperation are primary keys to a smooth moving experience for first-time renters moving into an apartment together.

Experienced Movers

Experienced movers might take a “been-there done-that,” approach to moving, which causes them to overlook a few important aspects. Moving takes a lot out of a person. One of the biggest risks for experienced movers is to ignore previous successful moving strategies due to over-confidence or feeling burned out from past moves. This is especially true for people moving from a larger home into a smaller apartment, which requires strong packing & decision making skills. The following checklist of do’s and don’ts serves as a helpful refresher for experienced movers today.

Apartment Rental Checklist – Do’s

Certain elements of moving are absolute must-do’s in modern times. Organization & planning are important first-steps in the process. Knowing your budget is also crucial, as are understanding the neighborhood where your apartment is located, packing strategies and a full comprehension of your lease terms/conditions.

Do Organize & Plan

Organize and plan your move carefully. Include any partners in decision-making processes and create a strategy. This includes packing, cleaning, expenses, timeline, deadlines and overall budget.

Do Know (and stick to) Your Budget

Knowing and sticking to your budget are two different things for many people. Make a budget, which leaves room for unexpected/miscellaneous expenses. Stick to your budget to avoid financial trouble during the move and after move-in.

Do Check Your Lease – Twice

Are you allowed to paint the walls? Will your landlord pay to replace old appliances? Are you responsible for utility bills, and if so, which ones? Check your lease and check it twice again. Read your lease until you fully understand and agree with all its terms/conditions.

Do Creating a Packing a Packing Strategy

Bad packing strategies cause tension, arguments, delays and lost items. Create a packing strategy suited for your needs. Do all items fit or must you store some items? What boxes/totes do you need? Organize boxes for each room and label them accordingly. Pack the truck by room & unload one room at a time, starting with rooms on top floors and the back of the apartment. Move boxes into front rooms last so you have room to operate when loading in.

Do Know Your Neighborhood Before Moving

Know your neighborhood before signing a lease. Understand the energy of the location and look for possible trouble areas. Talk to potential neighbors if possible and drive around looking for pros & cons prior to making a commitment.

Do Thoroughly Inspect Your Apartment First

Thoroughly inspect your apartment before moving. Do all appliances work? How is the water pressure? Check for foul odors, fire hazards and leaks. Check the AC/heat and ask questions about prior tenants.

Apartment Rental Checklist – Don’ts

Knowing what not to do when moving is equally as important as knowing what you should do during the process. Making a list of things to avoid & choices to decide against is an invaluable tool for experienced & first-time movers alike. A checklist of don’ts helps prevent renter’s remorse & potential financial hardship.

Don’t Overspend

Don’t overspend on rent you cannot afford or items you do not need. Putting yourself in a bad financial position due to the excitement of moving creates stress and arguments. Avoid overspending and save your money for unexpected expenses during the move and after you move in.

Don’t Make Impulsive Decisions

Making impulsive purchase or other financial decisions leads to renter’s remorse. Financial hardship is challenging to overcome. Impulsive decisions lead to otherwise avoidable problems. Don’t make impulsive decisions causing stress or financial hardship when moving.

Don’t Sign a Lease if Uncomfortable

If you feel uncomfortable with the terms of a lease don’t sign it. If you truly want the apartment despite the lease, hire an attorney to look it over. Ask the landlord if changing one or two clauses is possible and maybe he/she will abide.

Don’t Forget Your References

Personal/professional references are often crucial to getting your preferred apartment. Landlords check credit reports & criminal records to protect themselves. If you have bad credit or some negative experiences in your past, personal/professional references might cause a landlord to overlook them and offer you the apartment anyway.

Don’t Hesitate When You Know What You Want

Taking decisive action is different than making impulsive purchase decisions. When you know an apartment is right for you, don’t hesitate to examine your lease thoroughly albeit expeditiously and sign it. If the apartment is a catch, chances are other renters are also competing for the lease. When you know what you want and it meets all your needs, don’t hesitate to grab it fast before someone else does.