Checklist for first-time apartment renters

Turning Points 3 min read

When you’re preparing to rent your first apartment, there’s a lot to consider. If you’re moving out for the first time, you might feel nervous about living on your own. Renting your place is exciting, but it can also feel intimidating. To prevent that feeling of overwhelm, we have a first-time renters guide to ensure you don’t miss a thing and you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect apartment.

Introduction to apartment hunting

For a first-time renter, apartment hunting can feel manageable when you have a plan. You can make the process smoother and more accessible with a little research, planning, and knowledge. Before you start your search as a first-time renter, you should understand the basic aspects of apartment hunting such as rental applications and agreements, rental inspections, and what to look for when renting an apartment.

Renter’s checklist for apartment hunting

  • Set a budget: Determine what you can afford and stick to it.
  • Research the area: Look for apartments in a safe and convenient location.
  • Make a list of must-haves: List the features you want in your apartment.
  • Take notes: Make sure to record your impressions of each apartment you visit.
  • Ask questions: Ask the landlord or property manager any questions.
  • Compare apartments: Decide which one is best for you by comparing places.
  • Check out the neighborhood: Visit during the day and night to get a feel for the community.
  • Know your rights: Make sure you understand the rental agreement terms and your rights as a tenant.

What to look for when renting your first apartment

When looking for an apartment, there are a few key factors to consider.


Look for apartments in safe and convenient areas close to public transportation, grocery stores, or other resources important to your lifestyle.


Look for apartments within your budget and ensure you understand the terms of the rental agreement. As a first-time renter, ensure you know all the costs associated with the apartment, including rent, security deposits, pet deposits, and any additional fees.


Does the apartment have washer and dryer, or will you travel to do your laundry? Will you have a designated parking spot, or will you have to jockey for a spot with your neighbors? Is there a guest policy and parking for visitors?

Condition of the rental property

Check the condition of the rental property. Look for signs of damage or wear and tear and ensure that the apartment is safe and secure.

Apartment rental inspection checklist

Once you’ve found a place you like that checks all your boxes, it’s essential to inspect the property thoroughly. You should ensure that the apartment is in good condition and that the property manager has made all the necessary repairs. Here is an apartment rental inspection checklist to help you get started:

  • Check the walls and ceilings for any signs of damage.
  • Inspect the floors for any cracks.
  • Check the windows and doors to ensure they’re intact and working properly.
  • Identify any evidence of pests or insects in the apartment.
  • Inspect the plumbing and electrical systems for any problems.
  • Check the water pressure in the shower and kitchen sink.
  • Check the appliances and confirm they’re working.
  • Check the heating and cooling systems for any problems.
  • Check for adequate cell reception.
  • Can you paint the walls or hang pictures?
  • Check for any safety hazards and ask when they’ll be repaired.

Apartment lease and rental agreements

You must fill out a rental application and get it approved before renting an apartment. The application will ask for documentation of any previous rental history, personal references, proof of your income, and where you work. You’ll give the property manager permission to run your credit history. You’ll complete the application, submit it to the property manager, and then wait to hear if you were approved.

Once you’re approved to rent the apartment, read and understand the lease terms before signing a rental agreement. It’s essential to know your rights as a tenant and understand all the agreement details. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you sign:

  • Security deposits: Do you understand the security deposit terms and if there are any additional fees? Learn more about how to get a security deposit refund.
  • Pet deposit: Is there a pet security deposit required?
  • Rent: Do you know the rent due date and any late fees?
  • Utilities: Are you clear about who’s responsible for paying for the utilities?
  • Repairs: Do you understand who’s responsible for repairs and maintenance?
  • Subletting: Are you clear on the terms of subletting the apartment and if the lease allows it?

After reviewing this first-time renter guide, you can feel confident and better equipped to start apartment hunting. Learn more about what questions to ask when renting an apartment.

Renting your first apartment is a major milestone. You might be moving out of the familiarity of your family home, and you’ll be buying furniture and décor items to make your new place feel like home. This would be a great time to consider getting renters insurance to protect your belongings from unforeseen events.

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