ENACTUS: Tips for first-time apartment hunters

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Apartment hunting can be stressful,  but the pursuit for the perfect pad doesn’t have to be unpleasant.

First, it is crucial to begin the hunt early. If a renter is looking for a place for the fall semester, it is better to look around January. Before hunting, have all income documentation ready and pull your credit score from a free credit site. That way, if a landlord’s cut-off is 600 and the renter’s score is below that, there is no time wasted between either party.

Attorney Tracy Wrisinger recommends www.Annual CreditReport.com.

[It’s] the only truly free resource to check your score,” Wrisinger said. “Other resources will give you a free trial period but require a credit card and will charge a monthly fee once the trial period expires.”

Second, it is important to research the safety of the neighborhood. There are websites that provide crime statistics and sex offenders, such as www.CrimeReports.com.

Crime mapping can be found on the Kansas City Police Department website, www.kcpd.org.

Quentin Kearney of Results Property advises to “call the local police and ask if they publish crime reports. For first-hand research, walk around the area during the day or drive past on a Friday and Saturday night to see what kind of activity goes on.

Once the dream property is found in a safe neighborhood, schedule a viewing with the landlord. If a suitable property was found online, be sure to visit. Listings and photos can be deceiving.

Prepare a list of questions beforehand to learn more about the property and the landlord’s policies.  Here are some to start with:

What utilities are included in the base rent?

How much is street parking?

Are there washer and dryer hook-ups in the apartment?

How do the local garbage and recycling services work?

If you are looking to live with roommates, ask about early termination in case a roommate    needs to break the lease. Is each person fully responsible for the total amount of the lease?

Also consider evaluating if insuring the property through Renter’s Insurance is of value.

Farmer’s Agent Kevin Hornick states that Renter’s Insurance covers “personal property (such as electronics or furniture), loss of use (covers second property if the property is currently inhabitable), liability (if someone sues the entire apartment) and guest medical (if a friend is injured on your property).”

Lastly, do not feel pressured to sign a lease on the spot. Have at least five properties in consideration and take time to review them individually. Let each of the properties sink in for at least a day or two and see how you still feel about it.

enactus@unews.com

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