Steps to Renting an Apartment in the US

Are you looking to rent an apartment in the US? This guide will help you find out the key steps and information that you need before signing on the dotted line.

Apartment Building

Renting an apartment in the US for the first time or as a foreigner can seem daunting, especially if you have no one to walk you through the process. Missing one crucial step in the process can be a disaster, as it is very tricky. That said, what should you know before renting an apartment? What are the mistakes you should avoid? How can you get started? Below are tips to help you get your dream apartment.

Steps to Renting an Apartment in the US

Know What Type of Apartment You Want

The first thing is to know what type of property you prefer to call your home. You’ll spend some valuable moments in your home, so it should be as memorable as possible. Do you want to rent an apartment for yourself only, or a studio apartment or a house with roommates? Providing the answers to these questions beforehand means you won’t blindly search for an apartment.

Find Your Apartment

After deciding on the type of apartment you want to rent, the next thing is to find it. You can use various methods to find many apartments that fit your criteria. 

  • You can decide to hire a real estate agent; this will cost you some money, but it makes the process easier and less stressful 
  • You can scout for rental apartments online or speak to a real estate agent
  • Finally, you can go the traditional way by looking out for any apartment with a ‘For Rent Sign’ in front, as it is the conventional way. This isn’t usually the easiest method, but it works too.

What Does Your Payment Cover?

Apart from your rent, you have to pay for other utilities such as electricity, water, etc. For some houses, the rent you pay may cover the utilities, while for others, it does not. Confirm what your rent will cover to know if you are paying too much or not. And if you’re unsure where to start, a free rent estimator will help you get a rough estimate of the monthly rent.  

Tour the Apartment

Once you have found the apartments that interest you, make sure you check them out. You need to make sure that the house is what the landlord or management company said it was. You don’t want to rent a house that looks different from what you have been told.

Get Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance is not something many people consider when renting a house, but this doesn’t make it any less important. Many don’t bother with renter’s insurance because the landlord or property management company handles the house insurance. However, renter’s insurance is different from home insurance. In the event of any accident that causes significant damage to the house, the house insurance policy will cover the house and the landlord’s property but not the renter’s personal property. This is why you must get renter’s insurance when renting a house.

Prepare for Your Screening

After communicating your interest in renting the apartment to the landlord, you shouldn’t be surprised if they wish to screen you. The screening allows for background checks and to ensure you are not a character that will be difficult to deal with or damage the property. The landlord will probably ask you for some documents to confirm your identity, financial status, etc. They will also ask you some questions. However, they are not obliged to ask questions about your religion, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.

If you successfully pass a screening, you may need to ask the landlord or property management company some questions about proper conduct. Your questions can include pet policy, quiet hours, having a roommate, etc. Whatever you wish to know, don’t hesitate to ask, as it will save you a lot of stress in the future.

Sign Your Lease 

After agreeing with the landlord, you need to sign the lease to complete the process. Before you append your signature, thoroughly read through the lease to ensure that what you have discussed with the landlord is exactly what has been documented. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you sign a lease with an omitted or added clause that you were unaware of. If possible, hire a lawyer to check the document before you sign it. Ask if your lease will automatically renew after it ends and when you can break out of the agreement. Also, confirm how much it would cost if you broke out of the lease before time.

Hire a Real Estate Expert

Merely glancing at the steps above makes renting an apartment look easy and like a do-it-yourself project. However, the process can be complicated, so you are advised to work with a real estate professional, especially if you are a foreigner. Take note that you can only use an expert’s services if you have the funds.


You will only end up confused and in a mess if you try to find an apartment in the US without adequate information or expert help. But with the guidelines outlined above, renting your dream apartment has never been easier. If you have the funds, you can hire an expert to help out. However, ensure you monitor the process, as only you fully know what your dream apartment should look like. 

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