Whatever the reason, renting your first apartment in New Jersey can be incredibly exciting. However, it is a total game-changer as well. Although it provides a lot more flexibility, it also comes with a lot more responsibility. First-time renters in Jersey City face a lot of challenges, mostly because they’re unfamiliar with the process. First of all, finding an apartment that holds everything you need and want will be no picnic. Next, once you find a place you like, you ought to be ready for all of the paperwork. And last but not least, finding credible Jersey City movers is a difficult, but a crucial step if you want to minimize the stress. But you are in luck! We have prepared this guide to walk you through the process of renting your own space for the first time. Just remember to keep up a positive mindset, and let’s go!
Budgeting is the key
Before you even consider renting your place, you should establish a budget to find out what your options are. Budgeting is the process of creating a plan to spend your money. This is a way to ensure that you will have the funds to cover the things you need. It is also a plan to help you to prioritize your spending and focus on the things that are most important to you. Minimize the problems you might face as an unexperienced renter and make a list of all expenses to cover in the future.
- Short-term costs. These include an application fee, security deposit, first and last month’s rent, renter’s insurance, and utility deposit. The other expenses include a pet deposit (or monthly pet fee), annual parking fees, etc.
- Long-term costs. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your gross income on rent. Most landlords hold their tenants accountable for handling the utility charges, as well as luxuries such as the cable and internet.
- Moving expenses. If you’re truly on a tight budget, a DIY move will save you some money. However, keep in mind that some unforeseen problems may cost you a lot more money than you expected to save. Moreover, if you simply cannot imagine yourself carrying a couch down a flight of stairs, you are left with the option of hiring movers. But, whether you require long-distance movers or local movers NJ, there are many ways to cut down the expenses.
- Additional expenses. In case you get an apartment that is not furnished, the cost of the household items you need to buy should be on your budget list.
Get ready for the apartment-hunting stage
Once you determine the affordability, and start searching for the perfect apartment, you must ask yourself a couple of questions. What is the thing that makes an apartment ideal for you? Most folks can create a list of criteria and features they want from the top of their head. But it’s not as simple as it seems. One of the challenges for the first-time renters in Jersey City may be to logistically gather and review all the factors that contribute to narrowing their choice. So, it might be best to go step-by-step.
What are you looking for?
A good first step would be to pick a desirable location because it will limit the search. Your ideal apartment should primarily be in a good neighborhood. Do you want to be near your job, school or family, or conveniently located near some facilities and stores that are important for you? Then you should make sure your home-to-be is either a short drive or walk away, or close to public transportation. For lower rental costs, you may want to look outside an urban area of the town, or find a roommate.
Further things to think about would be determining the type of property you want to rent. Do you want to live in a little one-person apartment or a single-family home? And lastly, see if you need a parking spot, extra storage, or some other amenities you may need. Rent.com, and similar websites allow you to narrow your selection by choosing filters. Moreover, you don’t have to fret about getting scammed, because all apartment listings are verified and include renters’ reviews.
Do a walk-through
After you have narrowed your list of apartments that fit your criteria, it is time to visit the finalists. Once you get there, look outside the property line. This will help you get a glimpse of your potential neighborhood and community vibe. The next thing that will catch your eye’s attention is probably the aesthetics. You will be able to see first-hand whether those pretty pictures online match the reality. However, keep in mind that small imperfections such as broken blinds can be fixed. The real criteria for the new rental would be health and safety. So, see if there’s a rat or bug problem, leaking ceilings, mold, rust, electrical issues, etc. Discuss this with your landlord, as it is their task to keep the living space in good condition.
One of the biggest challenges for the first-time renters in Jersey City is paperwork
So you have completed the tour of an apartment, and you think it’s the one. The next thing in line is paperwork, which may be a real ordeal for first-time tenants in New Jersey. They are very likely to stumble over some of the jargon, and rental lingo, or how to apply for the apartment. It is completely natural for everyone new to renting in Jersey City.
Once you have found the apartment that accommodates your needs, it is time to fill out the rental application. This will require you to provide information about job income, employment history, bank statements, credit score, etc. Based on this, your landlord will be able to determine whether or not you’re dependable. In case you are still financially dependent, or unable to make payments on time, talk to a family member to act as your co-signer. After you’ve finished completing your rental application, submit and wait to get approval. The turnaround time for approval is usually very quick.
Congratulations on the good news! You have been approved of your first apartment rental! You have done an incredible job so far, but it is not over yet! The lease is a legally binding agreement between you and your landlord. It is also one of the most important and helpful documents. This will establish how long you’ll be renting the property, how much and when you make your payments, and what your responsibilities are. You must read the contract thoroughly and in its entirety. Do not be afraid to ask questions, or note any confusion and concerns.
One of the things specified in your lease document is your rental bond. This is a payment you will be required to make at the start of your tenancy. It acts as financial protection if a breach of the lease agreement occurs. For instance, if you damage the property at all during your lease, the landlord can use it for repairs and cleaning when you leave. Once your property manager/landlord accepts the bond, he or she is obligated to give you a receipt. The bond is paid back to you when you leave the property, provided you don’t owe any money for rent, damages, or other costs.
For the vast majority of landlords, renters insurance is required. Since you are new to this, you should know that this is very beneficial for you. A landlord’s insurance policy covers the building, but not your personal items. This shelters your belongings in case of loss or damage caused by fire, flood, theft, and more.
Know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
Study your rights
To face the trials that first-time renters in Jersey City encounter, they need to be sure about their rights and obligations. In 1976, the New Jersey state legislature passed the Truth in Renting Act. This Act guarantees all renters have free access to information about their rights as a tenant. Once your name is on the lease, you are entitled to these rights. Also, your landlord is in obligation to give you a free booklet with up-to-date information on the lease contract, rights, and requirements of paying rent, habitability, and more. For example, all tenants have a right to live in decent conditions. This means that the landlord must maintain an apartment or rental home and must repair damages that happen to an object in normal usage during a period.
Honor your obligations
You ought to study your rights in case of some kind of disagreement and dispute with your landlord. However, you also have your responsibilities. For instance, you are responsible for maintaining and returning the property to the landlord in the same condition that you received it, except for normal wear and tear.
Your responsibilities also include not doing things without permission from the owner. It involves things like making changes to your property (painting walls, for example) and keeping pets. These things are usually covered in your lease document, so make sure to honor it, so it doesn’t come to some extremes such as eviction.
Prepare for the move
This completes our guide through the challenges for first-time renters in Jersey City. Once you complete the things mentioned above in the text, you should congratulate yourself! It was a daunting task to conquer. Check with your property manager to settle on a move-in date, and start preparing for the big move. We wish you luck with your first rental experience!