Renting An Apartment? Here are 7 Crucial Tips You Should Know

Apr 25, 2017

Finding a dream apartment is on everyone’s wish list. However, searching for and renting an apartment can be as tiring as it is exciting. That’s because, as the saying goes, ‘good things don’t come easy’. Apartment hunting comes with its own challenges and risks. In fact, it requires a lot of work, as no one wants to end up with a home that will leave him or her with regrets. Before parting with your hard-earned money, care has to be taken to ensure that the critical requirements are scrutinized meticulously ahead of a final decision.

Readmore on how to protect yourself from such risks

In order to secure your dream apartment with the least hassle, you have to be strategic about your choices. Here are seven things you should know before going ahead to rent that apartment.

Know how much you can afford

Before you begin your hunt for that dream apartment, you need to determine what you can afford. It is advisable not to get an apartment that is too expensive. Ideally, your rent should not be more than 30% of your earnings; that is 3 months of your salary or earnings, maximum of 4 months’ salary. For instance, if you earn N100, 000 per month, which gives you N1, 200, 000 yearly, your rent should not go beyond N300, 000 to N400, 000 per annum. When you know your maximum budget for rent, your search can be tailored towards an apartment that costs less than your budget. This helps you avoid financial pitfalls that can leave you indebted.

Read more on how to save and prepare for the future

Be informed about your choice neighbourhood

Now that you know how much you can afford to pay for rent, don’t plan for a new apartment without considering the location of the house. If you are having difficulty doing this, you might want to consider scouting around various neighbourhoods that interest you, to determine which one you may likely want to settle for. In your consideration, take a good look at the environment and look out for potential environmental problems. Many people have rented properties in areas with flooding challenges without paying attention, simply because the house they wanted to rent was newly built.

Also take note of proximity to key amenities such as hospital, airport, highway, schools, and markets. Are there potential health hazards like garbage dumps, factories etc. nearby? How consistent is power supply in the area? If you have children, is the neighbourhood somewhere you would want to raise your kids? How far is it away from your workplace or children’s school? Also consider the security situation of the neighbourhood. Security is becoming a more serious issue by the day, and it starts with where you live. You should be at peace once you are approaching where you consider your dwelling place. It should not be an area notorious for gang fights or where you need to watch over your shoulder.

Ensure you are dealing with the right person

Since the demand for rented properties is higher than the available properties, there are many rent-related scams that arise as a result of the desperation of prospective renters. This is one of the biggest nightmares of house hunters. Some agents and caretakers are known to defraud unsuspecting clients by illegally collecting money from them and several other clients without letting out the apartment to them. Some agents rent houses that are for sale to people. Since they network and know each other, it is not uncommon for two or three agents to show the same house to prospective renters, even when they are not the primary agent for the property.

Hence, it is important to ensure that you are dealing with the person who has authority to rent the property out. The best way to avoid being defrauded is to use an agent that has been referred to you by others who have successfully used their services. You can also ask other tenants living in the property if you are not sure of the authority of the agent you are dealing with.

Do a comprehensive walk-through

When you go for an inspection, be sure that the house is suitable for your comfort (in terms of proper ventilation and water supply). When inspecting apartments, do not get caught up in the aesthetics alone. When you buy a used product, you scrutinize it for defects. For example, you kick the tires when buying a used car. So, do the same for an apartment. In other words, scrutinize your apartment for fefects before you move in. Don’t be carried away by the fresh paint or shiny surfaces. A number of houses suffer defect that may not be apparent at first glance. Make sure that electrical switches, sockets, plumbing and other fittings are in good condition. Avoid houses with too many damages that will cause you to incur more costs.

Review the tenancy agreement carefully

After finding the apartment that meets your financial and aesthetic criteria, don’t be too excited or desperate to grab the offer without reading and fully understanding the terms and conditions contained in the tenancy agreement. This carelessness on the part of tenants often end up being a costly mistake that will make you regret rented that apartment in the first place. So, before you sign that tenancy documents, it is advisable you get legal advice and read between the lines.

Be on the lookout for key parts of the agreement like: who pays utility bills, length of the tenancy, mode of rent payment, cost of the caution and agreement fee, who will hold the caution fee and how it will be held, how you will get it back, renewing the agreement and who is responsible for property maintenance. Some landlords do not allow the use of generators, kerosene stoves, gas cookers, etc. Know that you are able to negotiate aspects of the agreement and do not be afraid to request changes prior to signing. Make sure anything promised to you by the landlord is in writing. It is necessary to be informed of these things in order to avoid uncomfortable situations in the future.

Find out about unpaid electricity utility bills

A major challenge for new homeowners is huge electricity bills inherited from former tenants of the house, who defaulted in paying up their electricity bills. Sometimes, these bills accumulate to the tune of hundreds of thousands. Therefore, before you go on to pay for an apartment, always ask if there are outstanding utility bills on the apartment.

Be sure to insure your belongings

After deciding on your new home, there is a need to protect yourself from financial implications of unforeseen incidents. Your landlord may have an insurance policy on the building, but when it comes to your personal effects, it is your responsibility to get an insurance coverage. If there is a break-in and all of your belongings are stolen, your landlord is not liable, as his insurance plan would only cover the building and not the content therein.

You might say that your new home is situated in one of the safest neighbourhoods around, and you do not need insurance. But, if disaster such as a fire or storm strikes your home, the landlord’s insurance plan would only cover for the building repairs. If you want coverage for your possessions, you’ll need an insurance policy that covers you as a tenant. The Leadway Household, Automobile and Personal Accident Policy (L-HAPPy) covers your household contents in the event of theft, fire outbreak, flooding, natural disaster or other unexpected occurrences. It is designed to suit the needs of all types of house occupants, whether it is a self-owned or rented property.

L-HAPPy insures more than just your personal effects; it provides coverage for the members of your household, covers your motor vehicles, covers you against personal accidents and provides compensation for expenses incurred from legal liability as a result of injury to visitor or household member. This can even include your house helps, if you choose.

Live Happy. SMS HAPPY to 22865 and we will call you back to take your enquiry on L-HAPPy.  You may also contact our team on (01) 2800 700, 2800 701 or 08129997070, to find out more about L-HAPPy and other insurance policies in our offerings. Send an email to for more details on L-HAPPy.

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