I should know the answer to this question - I've been living in a rented apartment for 7 years!
I think the most important thing when renting an apartment is to have your wits about you! Seriously - there are several things you must have -
- Evidence of the means to pay
No-one is going to rent you an apartment if you haven't got a steady job and a steady income. It's tough if you've just started a job but I should think most agents will want to see evidence of your pay for at least three (or six) months.
- The Deposit
You'll have to fork out at least one month's rent in advance. This comes back at the end of your tenancy less any money owing for repairs or replacements (which you won't have because you're such a spotless person)
- A Good Reference
- Contents insurance
The landlord will have the fabric of the place insured. You need to have insurance to cover the contents - and make sure its adequate. Make sure also, that anything like your bike and computer are also covered.
- Other expenses
You need to get utiliies sorted out; electricity, gas, rates, water - all these are your responsibility too.
I've lived in apartments where I've dealt directly with the landlord - the advantage of this is you cut out the middle man - and hopfully some money. The disadvantage can often be that the relationship gets personal and when things need doing (or saying) on either parties behalf - it can be tricky.
Personally - I like to deal through a good agent- yes you pay more - but it's simpler and less complicated to distance yourself from the apartment owner. My mantra about the landlord is -
I like renting because it takes away the responsibility of ownership. If anything major goes wrong, someone else will fix it! (Recently I had to have a new oven and a new freezer, as well as having to have a problem with damp sorted).
He don't bother me and I don't bother him!
Be a good tenant - pay your rent, pay your bills, keep the place clean and tidy, get on with your neighbours - its not rocket science.