...Laverne (marciamarcia) wrote in first_apartment,

I'm Maggie Koerth-Baker, also known as marciamarcia. I'm a freelance journalist working on a story for the Associated Press about the 10 things you need to know before you rent your first apartment. I've gotten some great insights from rental experts, but I want to get a few more personal anecdotes from around the country.

1) Issues involved with picking a neighborhood
--i.e. the crime rate, the personality, etc.

2) Your landlord is not your buddy
--i.e. this is a business relationship, get everything in writing, have a healthy degree of cynicism

3) Your lease is for reading
-- don't just sign with a cursory glance, take it home and make sure you know what you're getting into

4) Safety and Security
-- how safe is the complex, do you know how to maintain things like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms?

5) Roommates
-- how it's different from being friends, divvying up chores, what if one of you breaks the lease

6) Renters' insurance
-- why it's important and how it's cheaper than you probably think

7) You Need To Go Shopping
---things you don't own and need to (like a plunger) and things you should buy instead of dumpster diving (like upholstered furniture...nobody wants a bedbug outbreak)

8) Utilities
-- getting them turned on, budgeting for them, negotiating the pluses and pitfalls of "included-in-the-rent" utilities

9) Be Nosy. Be Pushy
-- why and what you should investigate before you sign a lease, why it's important to keep pressing the issue if there's a fix that needs to be made

10) Know Your Rights
-- your landlord can't just walk into your apartment and other legal details first-time renters might not know

If you have renting stories/anecdotes/nightmares that relate to these topics please email me (don't comment here). You can reach me at maggie.koerth@gmail.com. Thanks a bunch.
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