Posted on March 4, 2021

Trying to find an apartment or home to rent can be an overwhelming process, especially if you aren't familiar with the ins and outs of the industry. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to navigate what can sometimes be a confusing process and find the best home for you!

Apartment Building
  • Determine your needs

    • There are some important things you need to know before you can start your search: When do you want to move in? How much space do you need? What amenities are a must-have? 
    • Having a flexible move-in date will keep you open to a larger number of properties, but if you need to move at a specific time, make sure you are clear about this when seeing properties--this way you don't need to worry about seeing a home that will not be available to you.
    • What is the most valuable to you? Some people don't mind walking to a laundromat, but others can't fathom living without laundry available in their home. Some renters want newer appliances and a big kitchen to cook elaborate meals, but if you prefer to dine out, order food, or cook only simple meals, you can look for homes that prioritize living space over kitchen space. 
  • Check online listing sites and schedule tours

    • There is no shortage of listing sites, but some of the most popular are Zillow,, Craigslist, and
    • Use your first visit to these sites to get a feel for the market in your area--what amenities are common? What is the price range? 
    • When you see properties that interest you, you can save them online and schedule a time to see them!
  • Get your paperwork ready

    • There are a number of documents you should have ready before you apply. It can be helpful to have this information together before you tour. This way, when you view your future home, you can help streamline the application and get you into your new home more quickly. When you apply, you should be ready to provide the following:
    • Proof of income--either your most recent tax return or your two most recent paystubs are ideal. If you are moving to start a new job, a hire letter from your new employer should suffice.
    • Contact information for your current and previous landlords--you should have information for at least the last five years of residency.
    • A copy of your photo ID

Lease Clipart

  • See properties in person, make a decision, and submit your application

    • Once you have seen the properties, you may instinctively know which is your favorite or you may need to weigh the pros and cons. Either way, once you have made a decision, reach out to the property manager and let them know you are ready to apply!
    • Complete and return the application paperwork, along with the documents discussed above and any other information the property manager requests and your application fee.
  • Sign the lease and move in!

    • Congratulations! Your application has been approved and you are one step closer to moving into your new home. 
    • Touch base with the property manager to make sure you know when you need to pay the security deposit and first months rent, as well as any other monies that may be due before move-in. You most likely can not pay this with cash and you may be asked to pay this with a certified check or money order. 
    • You may be able to sign the lease online or you may need to meet the property manager in person. Either way, feel free to take the time to look through the clauses of the lease and ask any last questions you may have. 
    • Once the lease is signed and the move-in date is here, you are all set to move in! If the apartment is in a building with multiple units, make sure you ask about restrictions for moving--you may be limited to certain times to prevent excessive noise at night or there may be a specific elevator you need to use.
Get your keys!

Remember, if you find yourself lost or confused throughout any step of this process, feel free to reach out to the property manager with any questions you may have. There are no stupid questions and it's better to ask and be safe! Professional management companies like Staffordshire Realty are here to help you and we are happy to take the time to talk to you with any questions or concerns. 

Good luck on your search!