First-time Renter Advice | Home Properties | Apartments for Rent

Ultimate first-time apartment renters’ guide

Congratulations! When you decide to rent an apartment, you not only get a new home -- you get a flexible lifestyle. Leasing an apartment means you’re not locked into the long-term financial commitment of a house.  There is, however, a lot to think about when renting a new apartment.

The first is to ensure you that you rent from the best apartment community in the neighborhood you’re considering. As a top apartment management company, Home Properties offers quality apartment communities, fair and flexible leases, and high-end amenities. To take that a step further, we also guarantee your satisfaction with the Home Properties Pledge. Whether you’re looking for a studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom, Home Properties offers apartments for lease throughout FL, IL, MA, MD, NY, NJ, PA, and VA. As a first time renter, you probably have a few questions.  

Home Properties can help! Here is some advice to help make renting your first apartment a positive experience:

Private Landlord vs. Management Company

Before you begin your search, you may want to decide whether you want your apartment run by a private landlord or a professional apartment management company. There is an important distinction. A private landlord might be hoping to get rich quickly from their rental property. It’s also a bit more difficult to gauge the history and reputation of an individual landlord. An apartment management company such as Home Properties is invested for the long term and has a reputation of high integrity and honest lease agreements.  If you haven’t had a chance to review Our Pledge, you can view it by clicking here. The best apartment lease is the one that is both fair to you and the property management firm. Home Properties has been in business since 1967 and we manage over 36,000 apartments in nine states.

Choosing a Roommate

You may need to consider finding a roommate to share expenses. Think about your friends first. Is there someone you already know with whom you would consider living? This is an important decision and one that shouldn't be made too quickly. Find someone who keeps the same hours, shares your level of cleanliness, and can afford their share of the expenses.

Find your Home!

Compare Apartment Community Amenities

Many Home Properties apartment communities offer various amenities — swimming pools, fitness centers, business centers, outdoor trails, etc. Take the time to compare offerings of several area communities and consider the potential savings if leasing a new apartment means you don’t need that separate gym membership.

Rental Apartment Layout & Selection

Take the time to review different layouts available to you — one- and two-bedroom apartments with one or more bathrooms and other features such as dens, dining rooms, extra storage, etc. Pick a floor plan that fits your lifestyle today, and one you can live with for the next few years. Choose the exact apartment that you would like to live in — there may be several two-bedroom apartments available, each offering different upgrades and amenities, and located in different areas of the apartment community.

Lease your Apartment Online

Once you find the perfect apartment, act quickly. It takes just a few minutes to visit the Home Properties website and apply for your apartment online.

Application Fee

After you place a hold on an apartment, the next step will be a credit screening and a residency application. You can apply online, or download a standard residency application right here on the Home Properties website. Once you submit the application, you will be asked to pay a non-refundable application fee to cover the costs of ordering a credit report, checking references, and processing your application.

Your Apartment Lease Agreement

Once you are ready to make a commitment to a specific apartment and community, and your application has been approved, you will be presented with an apartment lease agreement. The lease is a document that is binding for both the resident and landlord. You can view the standard lease agreement used in your state. Read this document carefully and ask questions about anything you do not fully understand.

Security Deposit

Security deposits for most apartments are roughly equal to one or two months' rent. This will be held by the property manager and applied to the cost of repairing any possible damages to the apartment. After deducting the proper amount to cover damages and repairs, the remainder of the security deposit is refundable when you move out of the apartment. You’ll want to take excellent care of your new home so the deposit will be refunded to you when you leave.

Dog and Cat Friendly Pet Fees and Deposits

Home Properties communities are pet friendly. As one of the top apartment property management companies in the country, we recognize that dogs and cats are part of your family. In some cases, you may be charged a small, upfront fee and/or a monthly charge to cover the extra cleaning and repair costs related to a dog or cat living in the apartment. Terms for holding and refunding the pet deposit are spelled out in the lease agreement.  

Renters' Insurance

Before you move into your new apartment, it is required that you obtain renters' insurance. This is a special insurance policy which is very affordable and protects the contents of your apartment from loss or damage due to fire or theft. Premiums are calculated based upon the value of your furniture and other personal possessions. You can obtain renters’ insurance by visiting the renters’ insurance page on every Home Properties Resident Website or contacting your local insurance agent. Remember, any insurance carried by the property owner only insures the buildings. Protecting the contents of your apartment is your responsibility.

Apartment Walk-through

Right before you are scheduled to move in, it is important to walk through the apartment with the leasing consultant. This allows you to confirm that the apartment is prepared to your satisfaction. It is a good idea to take a few "before photos" of each room in the apartment.

Arrange for Utilities

Because utilities such as gas and electric, cable television, Internet service, and telephone service will be placed in your name, it is your responsibility to call and order service before you move in. Depending upon your credit history, these suppliers may request a refundable deposit. This will also help you start building a credit history in your own name.

Furnishing Your New Apartment

Before moving in, you will want to give some thought to furnishing your apartment. The most important piece of furniture in your new apartment is, of course, your bed. After that, consider hunting for furniture and accessories at garage or yard sales, thrift stores, and the attic or basement of close relatives! Don’t forget to stock up on the basics, including a shower curtain, wastebaskets, cleaning supplies, etc.

Arranging the Move

You have found your perfect apartment, completed the paperwork, and have a move-in date in mind — now it's time to locate a moving company. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. You can choose to pack everything yourself, or pay for a packing service. If you are doing it yourself, start collecting boxes, newspapers, bubble wrap, and other supplies to protect your belongings.

Settle In and Enjoy!

Renting an apartment offers a worry-free lifestyle – you can enjoy your free time while the apartment management company mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, and shovels the snow. So settle in to your new lifestyle and enjoy it!