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Broke & Fabulous: Leasing an Apartment

By: Eric Thomas

As the beads of sweat grow into a trickle streaming down the side of your face, you realize it’s that time of year. No, not summer. It’s time for you to find an apartment before school starts, your lease ends or your current roommates move on and move out. If this is you, allow me to give you a few tips about your new apartment:

1. Lease now, not later. Often people think if they wait they can get a better deal or that they will put in a 30 day notice (more on that later) after they find a new place to stay. Both are typically wrong. The sooner you are looking to move, the better the deal you will get; especially during summer. Most apartment communities will offer a move-in incentive during summer months to keep vacancy numbers low.

2. It pays to pay more. Whether it is paying more in rent, security deposit or for some upgrades; if you can afford it, it’s probably worth it. Getting everything you want (location, washer/dryer, garage, new interior) and none of the things you don’t (old, stale, empty apartment in the hood) means higher rent. If you have to pay a higher deposit it increases the likelihood of you leaving with a credit rather than a balance. So, be wary of moving in on low or no deposit. Its saves you up front but will catch you in the back-end.

3. YOU MUST GIVE 30-DAYS NOTICE! This is nearly universal. Some places even require 60 days. A lot of places will hold you rent-responsible until the end of 30-days no matter when your lease ends. So, if you plan to move at lease-end, give your notice on time. When you move out, certain charges are nearly unavoidable. Expect to get charged for cleaning, painting and carpet cleaning or replacement. This is where having a healthy security deposit is a benefit: It can save you the hassle of owing for the old place while you are trying to pay for the new one.

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