Daughter in college is ready to take the apartment step. What should she be wise about?

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Q: My daughter will be starting college soon and wants to move into an apartment to be more independent. I want to find her a safe, yet affordable place to live, but I’m not sure where to even begin. Can you help me?

A: First, set a budget. She should not spend more than one-third of her income on rent. Remember, the monthly rent is not the only bill she should expect. She will probably also have a utility bill and a cable bill, as well as normal expenses like groceries, cleaning supplies, entertainment, etc.

She should also expect some one-time and reoccurring fees. She may have to pay an application fee, as well as a rent deposit. If she’s planning on bringing a pet with her, she may have to pay a pet deposit as well as a reoccurring pet fee.

After she knows how much she can afford, she needs to determine where she wants to live and what the “must-haves” are. Does she need a one-bedroom? Is there a safe place to park her car? What are the amenities? After she figures out her needs and wants, she can start apartment hunting.

After she has a sense of what she wants and what she can afford, she should start touring places. She should not base her decision solely on pictures of the apartment online. She needs to visit the complex in person, and inspect all doors, locks, windows, toilets, appliances, etc. When touring the apartment, she should also keep her “must-haves” in mind. It’s also best to ask prospective neighbors about any issues with the apartment complex. Is there noise? How quick is the landlord about fixing an issue? Etc.

After she finds that perfect place, sign the lease!

She will most likely need to provide with personal references, work information, monthly income, credit, etc. If she is planning on having a co-signer, that person will need to supply that information, as well.

When reviewing the lease, make sure she understands the maintenance repairs she is responsible for and what the apartment complex will cover. Be sure she asks what the security deposit covers and when to make her payments, how repair requests will be handled, and the timeframe it will take to resolve them. Make sure she keeps a copy of the signed lease in a safe place.

If she has any questions about her rights, she should request a copy of the California Tenants Guide, which is a free publication through the Department of Consumer Affairs(www.dca.ca.gov)

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