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How To Rent In The United States As A Nigerian.
Moving to the US from Nigeria is an exciting new adventure, and one of the very first things you’ll have to do upon arriving there is finding the ideal apartment/house to call home. In this comprehensive guide, we break down what you need to know to successfully rent in the United States.
Documents To Provide.
American landlords are legally required to verify your eligibility and ability to pay rent before approving your application. To that end, they’ll usually request the following documents:
Your passport: To serve as proof of your identity.
Your visa: This serves as proof of immigration status to validate that you have a right to live in the country.
Proof of employment/income: Pay stubs or bank statements showing you can afford rent.
Another thing landlords tend to ask for is your credit history which you won’t have as a new person to the country. In most cases, submitting proof of income will suffice to show that you can consistently afford to pay rent. Another alternative if you have friends or family in the US already is to have them act as a co-signer for you if they have a good credit history.
Read: How to Renew Your Nigerian Passport In The United States.
Types Of Rent Contracts.
There are two main types of rental contracts (formal agreements between landlords and tenants) for US apartments:
Rental Agreement: This type of contract is usually the go-to for short-term, month-to-month type rentals. It usually lasts around a month and gets renewed automatically. It allows the landlord to change the contract details anytime, like raising the rent fee.
Lease: This is the more common rent contract, usually lasts anywhere from six months and longer. The fee and details can't change without mutual agreement, and it provides more long-term security.
What you should expect from a rent contract. Your rent contract should outline and specify the following:
Length of contract.
Method of payment.
Maintenance and repairs clause.
A late payment clause.
End of contract obligations.
Security deposit amount and date it’ll be refunded.
Costs Associated With Renting.
Application Fee: The rental application fee is a non-refundable charge for people interested in renting an apartment. It's typically used to screen potential renters and conduct background checks. The fee can range from $30 to $60, depending on the location and desirability of the neighborhood. The more desirable the area, the higher the application fee is likely to be. Some states in the United States have a legal limit on how much can be charged, so it's always helpful to check the limit in the state where you're renting.
Security deposit: This is a refundable payment made at the start of your rental agreement to cover any damages that may occur to the property during your lease. At the end of your tenancy, the landlord will assess any potential damage to their property, deduct the cost of any damages, and return the remaining deposit. In most cases, the security deposit is equal to one month's rent.
Renter’s Insurance: This is a type of property insurance that protects tenants who live in a rented space in the event that something happens to the property. Although not legally required, most landlords prefer tenants who have renter's insurance. The cost of renter's insurance usually ranges between $15 and $20 per month.
Rent: You’ll usually be required to pay your first month rent upfront.
Utility fees: This refers to payments for basic services such as water, gas and electricity.
Where To Find Houses For Rent.
The best place to start your apartment hunt is on helpful rental listing sites like:
Zillow: This is the most comprehensive website for searching homes/apartments. It allows you to view the details of the property and neighborhood you want to rent in full. It is known for its best location-based rental searches.
Apartments.com: This website is notable for covering every step of the rental process. You can apply, sign a lease, and pay on the website.
PadMapper: This is the best option for finding rooms for rent or splitting house expenses.
Zumper: Another great option for finding houses to rent. Zumper excels at making the process of renting easy and intuitive by offering a great interface and seamless experience.
Rent.com: Although this website doesn’t have as many listings as the other options, it allows you to filter what you want down to your exact specifications, from the floor type to closet preference.
How Much Does Rent Cost
Here is a breakdown of the average monthly rent in the top five states with the highest Nigerian population in the US according to Zillow:
New York: $3,746
The actual cost of rent varies depending on the type of property and the neighborhood in which it is located.
Key Tips and Tenant Rights To Know
As a renter in the US, you have legal rights that landlords must respect. Here are some key tips for a smooth rental experience:
Read all lease terms carefully before signing. Seek clarification from the landlord on confusing clauses.
Document the condition of the unit on move-in with photos and videos. This protects your security deposit later.
Request repairs promptly in writing. Landlords must maintain electrical, plumbing, appliances in working order.
If a landlord ignores serious repair requests, tenants can withhold rent until fixed in some states.
We hope this guide is helpful in finding your dream apartment/home in the United States.
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