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Foshee Lifestyle Blog

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Renting an Apartment

Are you searching for a new apartment? This process can be exciting, stressful, and confusing all at the same time. If you’ve never looked for an apartment before, this process can seem intimidating. We’ve created this comprehensive guide containing all of the important information, advice, and terms you’ll need to know throughout this process. Follow along for your step-by-step guide to renting an apartment.

Decide what you’re looking for in an apartment

Before you start your apartment search, it’s important to decide what factors are most important to you. Is a great location the most important factor for you? Or, do you have a furry friend that needs lots of room to play? Try making a list of 5-10 amenities that you would like to see in an apartment. Then, rank those factors by importance.

Do your research

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to do some research on apartments. Apartments.com is a reliable source that allows you to filter by city, amenities, bedrooms, and more. Did you know that Zillow isn’t just for buying and selling homes? Zillow also has many apartment listings, similar to apartments.com. You can also look at a property management’s list of communities on their website to find your perfect apartment.

Schedule a few tours

It’s important to tour a few different apartments before committing to one. Many apartments allow you to schedule a tour directly from their website. Don’t have time to go on a tour during regular business hours? Some communities now offer self-guided tour options through platforms like Rently or Pineapple. These allow you to tour an apartment on your own time.

The application process

Once you’ve found the apartment of your dreams, it’s time to apply. Before you have the opportunity to sign a lease, you must apply for an apartment, similar to how you would apply for a job. While the application process can vary, there’s usually a series of forms to fill out and required fees to pay. Here’s a breakdown of the important terms you may hear during this stage.

Application fee

An application fee is a fee you pay when you submit your application for an apartment. While this fee can vary based on company and state, it’s usually somewhere around $50. This fee helps pay for components such as credit checks and background checks that the property management company may conduct. The application fee is charged per person, not per unit. This is to account for the multiple credit and background checks that will need to be conducted.

Administrative fee

The administrative fee, or “admin” fee is a fee you pay the apartment or property management company to cover potential expenses during the application process. This includes tours, the technology they use for applications, and the cost of holding the unit from the market. When you apply for an apartment, the leasing platform typically takes that unit off the market and essentially saves it for you. This fee varies depending on the company, but it’s typically higher than the application fee.


A guarantor is someone you add to the lease who takes financial responsibility for the apartment. This person is usually someone who won’t be living in the apartment with you, but a person close to you or a family member who is willing to “guarantee” that they will pay for the apartment if for some reason you cannot. This is common for college students or young adults who don’t have sufficient income or credit to apply for an apartment.

Signing a lease

Once you get approved, the next step is signing a lease! During this stage, you’ll also find out how much your deposit is. A deposit is a fee you pay when you move into an apartment that accounts for potential damages that may occur during your time living there. Sometimes, this is a set amount for everyone or it could vary based on credit and other factors. However, once you move out, you have the opportunity to get this money back. This will depend on the shape of the apartment when you move out.

Move-in day

On move-in day, you’ll most likely meet with the property manager or a leasing agent to pick up any keys, parking passes, etc. Once you complete this, congratulations, the apartment is all yours! However, moving can be stressful. Be sure to check out our Apartment Move-in Guide and Moving Checklist to ensure you are prepared for this process.

Are you looking for an apartment in Alabama, Mississippi, or Georgia? Click here to view our list of communities. Find your next community with Foshee Residential!

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