If you are a young adult wanting to rent an apartment, you may be wondering if you are allowed to do so under the law.
The vast majority of laws in the United States require that an individual must be 18 years old to be considered an adult. A minor is not permitted to sign contracts under the law; and a lease is considered a contract (binding rental contract).
With that being said, there is an exception to that rule – emancipation. If you are legally emancipated (meaning you can legally rent an apartment), you assume the role of an adult and, therefore, can be able to enter into a contract. Generally, emancipation equals the rights of adults, meaning you are not restricted in any manner regarding leasing an apartment.
What Age Can You Rent an Apartment?
Emancipation comes with a set of requirements that must be met. For starters, you must demonstrate that you are capable of living independently of your parents or legal guardians and making sound decisions. Second, you will need proof of income (bank account statements) to show that you will be able to pay your bills on your own.
Leasing your own apartment is normally an exciting experience, but for young individuals, especially those under the age of 18, it can be a substantial challenge. If emancipation is not an option, you can rent your own apartment with the help of an adult as a guarantor.
Let’s have a look at how old you have to be to rent an apartment.
Why is there an Age Restriction when Renting an Apartment?
Typically, the law considers individuals under the age of 18 years old as minors and, therefore, cannot make sound decisions on their own. Furthermore, landlords commonly view this age group as inexperienced and immature, implying that they are incapable of properly caring for their property.
A landlord is bound to consider the possibility that a minor will not be able to pay rent on a constant basis, especially if they are a first-time renter, as opposed to an adult with a steady salary.This why landlords often consider leasing apartments to minors too risky.
Furthermore, a property manager, like any other adult/parent, wants to make sure the minor/child is mature enough to care for oneself. Thus, finding an apartment as an emancipated minor can be difficult unless you can present proof of emancipation.
How to Rent an Apartment as an Emancipated Minor
There are a few options available to you if you are under the age of 18. One option is to seek emancipation, while another is to co–sign the lease. If a landlord is confident that an adult will be responsible for paying rent in the event that the minor/younger tenant is unable to, they may be more inclined to lease the unit.
That said, here is how to rent an apartment as a minor:
Find a Co-Signer: This Gives You Credibility
A co-signer is an individual who is willing to pay your rent in the event you are unable to do so (unpaid rent).So, if you were wondering if your parents can lease an apartment for you, the answer is yes, depending on the landlord. A co-signer could be your parent, legal guardian, or even a relative. They are usually older than you and have a steady source of income to ensure that they will be able to pay the rent on time.
As a minor, you typically would have little to no acceptable rental history, making it difficult to find your first apartment under such circumstances. This is because you lack the credibility that would help your application stand out. This is where a co-signer comes in, they boost your chances of scoring your own apartment. Learn how long it takes for an apartment to approve you here.
Meet the Minimum Apartment Requirements
Before leasing an apartment, the property management company will do a background check to ensure that all of the details are correct and that you fit the tenant profile they require. In most cases, you will be required to show proof of income as well as personal identity, such as a driver‘s license, if applicable.
So, how much money do you need to make in order to afford to live alone? Learn more about how much income is required to lease an apartment here.
In addition, most landlords demand a good credit score of at least 620 or higher to demonstrate that you are financially responsible and will pay your rent on time. Since you might not yet have sufficient credit history or have limited employment history, being a minor, proposing to pay a larger rental deposit/security deposit and a bigger sum upfront to cover many months’ rent could help persuade the property owner to approve your application.
That said, if you have a bad credit history, having a co-signer will also help persuade the landlord by putting their concerns about your ability to pay rent at ease.
Dangers of Co-Signing when Renting an Apartment
It is always important to understand the dangers of co-signing as a parent or guardian. To begin, you will be responsible for paying the rent until the conclusion of the lease term. Second, you will be responsible for any damages to the apartment until the end of the lease. Learn everything there is to know about an apartment lease agreement here.
Which Apartments Can I Afford?
As a first–time renter, you should be aware of the types of units you can afford when looking for an apartment. That said, what criteria do you use to determine which apartments you can afford?
Here are some apartment hunting strategies/tips for finding an apartment to help you save time and money:
- Apartments that offer convenience are considerably expensive. What do we mean by this? If the apartment is located near grocery stores, shopping malls, and other amenities, the rental prices are often higher than those located a little further away.
- Another indicator of a higher rental fee is whether or not the property is pet-friendly. This is because there will be so much more cleaning to perform, on average, that landlords sometimes charge a higher rent for tenants with pets. So, always review the apartment pet policy.
- If the apartment does not have an elevator, the upper units will be more affordable because no one wants to carry things, like groceries, all the way up. So, consider leasing the top floor units to save more money.
- Keep in mind that safety comes at a price. We understand that as a young adult you want to save as much money as possible, but the unfortunate reality is that renting an apartment where you lose valuables may be extremely costly.
How to Budget for Rent as a First-Time Tenant
As a young adult, it is clear that your monthly paycheck is not sufficient to cover many of your requirements and desires. So, discovering ways to save money is a great way to stockpile a large savings account after paying all necessary payments.
That said, here are strategies you can use to save more money as a first-time apartment renter:
Use 50-30-20 Rule
This rule states that you should set aside 50% of your income for necessities, such as rent, food, and clothing, among others. The 30% should be set aside for desires, such as vacations, and the remaining 20% should be set up for savings.
This rule can assist you in avoiding living over your means, which can lead to financial difficulties. That said, use a rent calculator online to search for apartments that fall within your budget range. All you need to do is key in your monthly income, and the tool will give you a range of apartments that you can afford.
Look for a Roommate
Renting your own apartment with a roommate can help you save money. Splitting your monthly rent will save you half of what you could have spent if you had paid them on your own. A security deposit, plus one month’s rent and a pet fee, if applicable, is a huge expenditure; renting with a roommate can ease the burden of dealing with all these expenses.
Consider your utility expenditures as well, which can easily double or triple during the winter or summer months due to the need to heat and cool the apartment, respectively. Learn how to keep utility bills low in an apartment here.
Although renting with a roommate can be a wise move, you need to do your research to pick the ideal roommate. Some people are difficult and stubborn in many ways, regardless of how much you attempt to reason with them; this is not the type of person you want as a roommate.
Before signing the rental agreement/lease agreement, make a list of non-negotiables that you and your potential roommate agree to, and talk about how you will live together beforehand.
Search for Apartments During Winter
Apartments are less expensive during the winter since fewer individuals are looking to rent. The winter months are known for being a festive season, and no one wants to replace that with the stress and worry of moving out. Learn what is the best month to look for an apartment here.
Besides, landlords are far more inclined to negotiate a lower rental price during this time because they would rather have an occupied unit rather than an empty one. So, always push for a lower rent to save money since you may have leverage over the landlord.
Note: Never take someone’s word for it; always double-check that what you agree on with the landlord is reflected in the rental agreement. You lose your leverage after you sign on the dotted line, and it will not matter if what is on paper differs from your verbal agreement at that point. Your statements will be pitted against the hard evidence of what you signed on paper in a court of law.
Look for Rent Specials
To attract new tenants, most new apartment complexes offer rent incentives. To save money, look for such apartments near your desired area.
Asking for a Trial Period
Most landlords are reluctant to lease their apartments to underage tenants. So, if you score a garage apartment in a home of a private person, you may be better off. That said, be prepared to ask for a trial arrangement of one to three months, if possible. During this time, make sure to pay your rent dues on time.
This is not your parents house, so be sure to show respect to someone’s property and them personally in order to earn their trust and respect as well. Such small attributes can go a long way to scoring you the apartment long term.
Exceptions to renting an apartment under the age of 18 include military service, marriage, and emancipation by a court of law (court approval). That said, renting your first apartment will be a huge challenge if you don’t fit into that category.
If you do not have a good credit report, it is always a wise decision to offer the landlord a lump sum upfront to cover many months of rent (this is aside from paying a security deposit and one’s monthly rent).
Lastly, although property managers are prohibited under the law from discriminating against race or national origin, the law does not address age discrimination implicitly. That said, a landlord can decide to rent to a young adult without a credible source of income or employment history.