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Moving Out for the First Time: Some Helpful Tips

Getting your own place for the first time is an exciting process, but there are some things that you need to know before you start looking for your own apartment. Whether you are living alone or with roommates, there are rights that you have as a potential tenant. Be sure to know what rules apply when living on your own in Kansas City.

Before you move in to a new place:

Under federal law, a landlord may not discriminate to rent to you based on race, religion or gender. Additional factors that cannot be a factor include national origin, disability, ancestry, and familial status.

Do you understand what a lease really is? A lease is an agreement between the landlord (person renting out the apartment) and you (the tenant). The lease sets the conditions for renting the apartment.  Though leases can technically be verbal, both parties are better protected where there is a written agreement that might resolve any potential verbal dispute down the line.

What are cotenants? And sub-tenants? A cotenant is leasing the property at the same time as you, and it’s more commonly called a roommate. Subletting is when you lease out your apartment to another person. Many leases expressly forbid subletting. Should you decide to sublet, you are likely still the responsibility party on the lease—so any damages incurred by your sublet will be your burden.

Security deposits are commonly called for in a lease. This deposit is usually around the same amount as one month’s rent and is used by the landlord to pay for any damages to the apartment incurred when you are the tenant and left unpaid rent. A landlord may not use a security deposit to pay for fixing “normal wear and tear” – condition of the apartment that resulted from normal everyday usage — to the apartment.  In some areas, you might be required to pay first, last and security –equating to about 3 months of rent all at once.

Another tip—actually read the lease before you sign it. Many times landlords hide fees, such as key replacements, within the text of the lease, which you then sign and inherently agree to.

Good luck on your apartment search and best of luck on your upcoming move in Kansas City!