Finding an Apartment

As you begin to look for an apartment, you may hire a real estate broker.

If you do so, be sure you understand the terms of your agreement before any transaction takes place.

Keep in mind that only licensed real estate brokers/salespersons can charge you money for helping you find an apartment.

As you look at potential properties to rent make sure:

You can afford the apartment (include in your calculations anticipated costs like insurance and maintenance).

The apartment is in an acceptable condition, and record any maintenance requests you might have in writing.

You talk with people in the area to verify the competency and reputation of your potential landlord.

You are aware of, and understand, all components of the proposed lease.

Signing A Lease

When you decide on a property, you will enter into a contract or rental agreement with a landlord called a tenancy. There are several types of tenancies; a tenant with a lease and a tenant at will.

Do not put money down until you are 100% certain that you want the apartment (it may be difficult to get the money back).

Renting an Apartment

Renter's Insurance protects your personal property in the event that it is damaged or stolen.

This includes any of your personal belongings on the property, such as TVs, computers, furniture, and even a bicycle.

Renter's insurance also insures you if someone is injured on your property.

The premiums for renter's insurance average $15-$30/month.

Before you move in, your landlord can collect certain fees:

  • The first and last month's rent,
  • One month's security deposit,
  • The costs of the purchase/installation of a lock and key.

Paying Rent

The date your rent is due is part of the terms agreed to in the lease.

Paying your rent is a legal responsibility for which you will be held liable, so make sure you pay it on time!

If rent is 30 or more days late, a landlord can charge interest or a late fee.

Even when rent is only one day late, a landlord has the right to begin the eviction process.

Late and forgone payments have significant repercussions: they will damage your credit rating, which in turn will limit your ability to do things later in life, such as taking out loans, buying a car, or obtaining a credit card.

Keep In Mind

Your landlord can only increase your rent after the lease term has expired.

A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, military background, sexual preference, disability, or marital status.

If you feel you have been the victim of housing discrimination, you can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination or the Attorney General's Civil Rights Department.

More information on the Landlord/Tenant relationship may be found in the Attorney General's Guide to Landlord/Tenant Rights pdf format of Attorney General's Guide to Landlord/Tenant Rights