Tips and Resources for Every Step of Your Rental Journey

Whether you’re a seasoned renter or looking for your first apartment, this list of practical tips and resources can help you navigate the ins and outs of renting a home.

Couple carrying moving boxes and a plant

1. Preparing to Rent an Apartment

Taking stock of your finances is a critical first step in your rental journey. By taking the following steps, you can better understand how your rental can fit within your budget and larger financial goals:

  • Create a monthly budget. Use this worksheet to create a budget that incorporates your current or potential rental payment and any other monthly expenses.
  • Check your credit score. Your credit score matters when you apply for a lease. But keep in mind there are ways to improve your score if it is not where you want it to be.
  • Plan for the long term. Setting long-term financial goals creates stability for you and your family, whether you plan to rent long term or if you are renting with the goal of buying.

2. Searching for Your Apartment

Once you have a better idea of how much you can afford, you can start looking for available units. Here are some things you should consider as you start your search:

  • Determine where you want to live. When looking for rental homes, consider your location preference and what type of rental unit works best for your lifestyle.
  • Beware of fraud. Visiting prospective rental units in person is the best way to avoid common rental scams and illegal units.
  • Understand your lease. Your lease agreement should outline everything from how long you will live in your apartment, to how you will pay rent and any other rules specific to your community.

3. Living in Your Apartment

Once you’re in your rental, you’ll want to make sure the experience remains positive. You can do this by keeping your living space clean and up-to-date and maintaining a good relationship with your landlord:

  • Keep up with maintenance and repairs. Your lease agreement should outline who is responsible for making repairs and performing maintenance in your unit. Make sure you keep track of any needed repairs and report them to your landlord in a timely fashion.
  • Keep an open line of communication. Communicating proactively with your landlord about potential changes — from painting or decorating to adding a roommate — can prevent future disputes.
  • Follow the property rules.Your landlord may have policies for items such as maximum occupancy, eviction, quiet hours, smoking, parking, pets, landlord right of entry or maintenance worker access. Make sure you understand and follow these policies from the start.

4. Moving Out of Your Apartment

When it comes time to leave your apartment, there are several steps you should take:

  • Provide adequate notice. Your lease should include instructions on how and when you are required to inform your landlord that you plan to move out, often 30-60 days before you plan to move out.
  • Get your security deposit back. If you were required to put down a security deposit when you moved in, you should make sure you request to get it back. This should not be an issue if you keep up with the maintenance of your apartment and clean thoroughly before moving out.
  • Understand the consequences of breaking your lease. If you are in a situation that requires you to break your lease early, you should understand that there may be fees or penalties involved, but there are steps you can take for a more positive outcome.

5. Getting Help

Throughout your rental journey, you may run into challenges that require outside help. Whether you are struggling financially or having issues with your property, taking the following steps can help you address the situation:

  • Understand your rights as a renter. Tenant protection laws vary by state, but most provide renters with rights that ensure privacy, acceptable living conditions and protection from discrimination.
  • Know your options. If you are struggling financially or facing other housing-related challenges, Freddie Mac’s Renter Helpline and regional Renter Resource Organizations can connect you with free assistance from HUD-certified housing counselors.

Freddie Mac is working to address the affordable rental housing crisis by providing affordability, liquidity and stability to the multifamily housing finance market. Freddie Mac purchases loans from mortgage companies and other lenders for both single family homes and apartments. While Freddie Mac does not make loans directly to borrowers, more than 95% of the rental units we help finance through loan purchases are affordable to low- and moderate-income households.

Last reviewed: April 20, 2023

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