Most leases are 12 months long, but with so many renters looking for apartments during the spring and summer months, it can be competitive to find your next home. So realistically, when is the best time to look for an apartment?
Before your lease ends, we recommend starting the apartment search 2-3 months before your anticipated move date, and here are a few reasons why:
1. You will get to know the new landlord or leasing manager
A bad landlord can ruin your renting experience, so you first want to be on the lookout for these 5 signs of a good property manager or landlord. By beginning your search 2 or 3 months before you want to move, you have time to get to know each other better than a last minute application.
A leasing manager may ask some key questions about features you’re looking for in an apartment, to make sure it’s a good fit. Knowing whether you’ll need more than one parking spot, or if you want a bathtub in your bathroom means no surprises will pop up down the road to make either one of you unhappy.
If the apartment you tour isn’t quite right, you can always ask for other listings that would be available around your potential moving date. Most property managers or landlords are more likely to work with you to find an apartment if you communicate your timeline and desired features early on, so they can help you find an apartment that fits the bill.
2. You can pass the background checks
Different lessors have different requirements for potential tenants, but most will check into the following:
- Credit, to ensure you are financially responsible
- Previous landlords, to ensure you are a responsible tenant
- Your current place of employment, to ensure you have a steady income in order to pay rent on time
Starting the process sooner will allow you to have a conversation before they perform this background check, in case something serious is in your past, like a missed car payment or a poor landlord review. These tough conversations will be better if you already have a good report with the leasing agent.
3. You can ask all of the questions
Since you have an open line of communication with your new landlord, take the time to ask clarifying questions before the move. These are some common questions that would be great to bring up before you move, so you can plan accordingly.
- I don’t currently have a pet, but I’m thinking about it. What are your requirements for pets?
- Do you have any tips or recommendations for this neighborhood? Places to avoid, good places to get food, the best coffee, etc.
- What is your recommendation for a disruptive neighbor? Can I talk to the neighbors directly, or would you prefer to handle it?
- Are there any events that occur during my lease that I should be aware of? Block parties, festivals, etc.
- I have a bike, but I don’t have room to store it in my apartment. Do you have any recommendations?
- I’m thinking about gardening. Is there an existing garden plot, or are you open to the possibility of me starting one?
- If something breaks, how long would it take you to fix it?
- If there is an inspection, how far in advance will you let me know, and how will you be communicating this visit? (via email, text, phone call, etc.)
Asking these questions show your new landlord that you’re responsible, and want to have a positive experience in the new apartment. Hopefully, they will be able to answer all of your questions, and let you know how to contact them if any others come up.
4. You can schedule the move
In a perfect world, you would be able to move out of one residence in the morning, and move to the new one that same evening. In the real world, this isn’t always the case.
With 2 months before your move date, you will have ample time to talk to your new landlord about moving times, when the apartment gets cleaned, and if you can move any belongings into storage spaces before you yourself move completely in.
Next, you’ll be able to find and rent what you need to make the move. Whether you rely on a U-Haul and pack and box everything yourself, or you hire a moving company to schlep everything in and out for you, the earlier you can book things, the less stress you’ll have as you approach moving day.
Finally, once you know the schedule of the apartment you are moving into, you can talk to your current landlord to communicate when you will be able to vacate the premises.
If you don’t have 2-3 months…
If the timeline becomes tight and you don’t have as much time as you would like to find your next apartment, your best bet is still to be as open and honest with your potential landlord as possible.