Applying for an apartment
Landlords may ask people to fill out a rental application form and pay an application fee when applying for an apartment. This form asks for general information from the tenant. The information includes peoples' rental, employment, credit, and criminal histories.
When renting an apartment, everyone must be treated the same. Housing discrimination is illegal.
Types of leases
A lease is an agreement to rent between the landlord and tenant. Leases can be written or oral:
- Oral lease: The landlord and tenant make an agreement, but do not write it down. An oral lease is usually month-to-month so the lease renews every month unless the landlord or tenant choose to end it. This type of lease can end with 30 days notice; and
- Written lease: It is better to have a written lease stating the agreement between the landlord and tenant. The lease should state the following details:
- Rent amount, and how it should be paid
- Date of the agreement
- How long the lease will last
- How to renew the lease
- Amount of security deposit or move-in fee
- Fees for late rent
- How the lease should end
- Who is responsible for repairs
- When the landlord can enter the apartment
- Contact information for the landlord and
- Any other promises made by the landlord or tenant.
A lease should not include terms that:
- Say the landlord is not responsible for damages or injuries to people or property caused by the landlord
- Discriminate against people
- Are banned by local laws
You can find sample lease documents at an office supply store or you can use this sample residential lease.
Security deposits and move-in fees
A landlord can make a tenant pay money before moving into the unit. The landlord can use this to pay for repairs or unpaid rent after the tenant moves out. This is called a security deposit.
A security deposit is different from a move-in fee. A move-in fee is non-refundable and does not go towards the cost of repairs or unpaid rent.
Learn more about Getting a Security Deposit Back.
A landlord and tenant should do a walkthrough of the unit before the tenant's move-in date. The purpose of a walkthrough is to make sure the landlord and tenant agree on the condition of the unit. A walkthrough should help prevent arguments later about who is responsible for the condition of the unit.
You can use this Move-in/Move-out Checklist to help you do a walk through.