How to rent an apartment, home, or rental unit | The leasing process

Good morning. 

I’m Alixander.

And today is another beautiful day.

Welcome to the SLC Real Estate agency here at KW Salt Lake City Keller Williams, and we are so grateful that you like us on Facebook, visit us at our podcast or wherever you enjoy your podcasts, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and read the transcript on our website.

So today what we’re going to talk about is the leasing process or how to rent an apartment or a home

Searching for an apartment or a home in Salt Lake City

When we get started with the renting process it all starts with the search.

Where to find rentals in Salt Lake City, Utah

In today’s modern internet searching capacity, we can find all the rentals that are out there that owners are publicly putting out on the listing websites

There are a couple… to name a few:

There are others as well. But those are some of the big ones.

How to narrow down your search in Salt Lake City, Utah

So you’ll start your search.

Start with the Location of your rental

You’ll be looking through neighborhoods, searching maps, trying to identify what the perfect area will be for your home. Generally, that’s where it all starts.

Location location location, right?

Then look at the Condition of your rental

The next thing that you’ll do in your search is you’ll start looking into the condition of the property.

You’ll look through the photos, determine if it’s a good fit. Bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, yard (if any or all) things of that nature.

Then look at the Price of your rental

The next thing that you’ll look for is a price that works for you.

This is only the beginning

Now, granted, so far, this is a lot. And we’ve just only started.


The next part of your leasing process in how to rent an apartment is going to be the queries.

Now you have a list of potential rental properties

Once you’ve built a list of potential candidates to rent then you’ll proceed to call upon them.

Phone tag with apartment owners

Man, I’ll tell you… if you don’t like answering your phone, I’ll tell you what… those homeowners, those apartment owners, they don’t like to answer their phones either.

(Here’s why) they just don’t:

  • They’re busy.
  • They’re busy having to do maintenance.
  • They’re busy having to handle tenants.
  • They’re busy having to pay bills.
  • Just getting another phone call in the morning is sometimes not that helpful.

I mean, you want to call right before work, sometime between 8:00 and 9:00, and they want to receive that call sometime between 9:00 and 5:00, when you’re too busy to talk.

That’s just kind of how it goes.

We can help you with that.

Status Updates for your rental

But once you’ve got your queries out, and you’ve asked of different apartments, or different homeowners, different landlords, what’s the status on their rental:

  • A lot of them are going to come back already rented.
  • A lot of them come back.
  • We’re decided to sell and a lot of them will come back and say we’re so excited to have you.

I mean, that’s kind of how the market goes.


Now once you’ve determined the queries that work for you, the listings that seemed to be a good fit for you, you’ll want to go and do your showings.

Scheduling and will be kind of a pain because some days you’re going to be available, and some days they are going to be available, and when those overlap you’ll never really know until you try.

We can help you with that too.

But seeing as you can do this all by yourself, and we know you can. You have even done it before:

  • you’ll go to your showings
  • You’ll take a look at the house
  • the homeowner, or their maintenance guy, or their leasing agent will show you the whole home

What to expect out of your next showing

There’s usually two kinds of showings.

There’s the one where they tell you everything great about it and avoid anything bad about it.

And the other part is they don’t say anything and they let you make your own decision about it.

Firstly, I prefer the person who’s just letting me see it. That’s me. Personally, I’ll make my own judgment calls. Thank you. I don’t need you to sell it to me. I can see it.

Can we do a home inspection?

Regretfully in the showing process, we can’t do what we can do in the buying process and do a home inspection.

I mean sure you could ask the owners, or the apartment owners, or the property managers if you could do a property inspection, but generally speaking they will tell, “You know, there are other people who were in line for this property.”

You found a home or an apartment in Salt Lake City you want to rent

So with that let’s say you found one.

Let’s say you like where it’s at in the neighborhood, you like the condition… and how about that price?

That’s where we get to the deal.


Now, in leasing a property, it’s a lot faster process and, the degree of negotiations is let’s still there, it’s just not really the same. It’s because the pacing is quicker.

So with that…

What does it deal normally going to look like?

No two deals are alike

Well generally speaking…. there is no generally speaking when it comes to leasing a property.

Every single apartment manager, property manager, homeowner, and landlord has their own way of approaching the deal.

Some of them are going to want lots of money all up front. Some of them are so desperate for a tenant they’ll work with you. Some will even trade services, I wouldn’t recommend going that way… you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Rent and Deposits

But let’s say that you get a fairly decent deal.

And the deal usually look like this

  • First month rent. (I know also a lot of apartment managers or property managers that require last month rent as well.)
  • Deposit and also any additional deposits
  • So there’s also generally an application fee

And the application fee really comes as a part of the approval process.

Credit, background, and employment/income verification check

The Application Process

So what does it take to get approved now?

There are two kinds of mentalities towards the approval process for you accepting the deal and then accepting you as their tenant.

Those that don’t care…

There are those who don’t care who you are. They don’t care about your credit. They don’t care about your background. They don’t care about your employment. They just want the cash and they want you living there. I would avoid those people, just saying.

…and those who care .

Those who want you to do a credit check background check employment income verification check. Those are the people I’d want to work with. They are the ones who are very experienced and they’re going to want to work with you.

The application fee

Now that’s going to cost a small fee.

It can cost anywhere from, you know, $17 to $75.

It really depends on whether they’re up charging for the service of approving you to be a tenant of their community or their home.

Approval process

So what is the approval process look like from there?

All right, you paid your money (for the application process), you’ve filled out your application. They’re going through the verification process:

  • Your credit is okay,
  • Your background looks fine
  • Your employment… you’re not lying about it.

So how do they approve you?

Well, generally speaking the first viable approvable candidate is the one who gets it.

Avoid Discrimination

So when you find yourself in a situation where there’s lots of people trying to get the same place, you’re going to want to make sure you’re working with a landlord that’s doing these kinds of checks as opposed to one that isn’t because you don’t want to be discriminated against just because you want to rent.

Discrimination is the thing and even in the great state of Utah, we have people who discriminate, and a lot of times they do it because they don’t pull credit, background, around employment.

You’re approved. Congratulations!

You can be the tenant for this unit or this home. That’s awesome.

Lease signing

Let’s talk about the lease.

Now there are, as we’ve been showing, there are two kinds of landlords & two kinds of property managers:

  • Those who have a very loose lease… usually only one page… if that.
  • And those who have extensive pagination

Which is important, it protects you and it protects them. And it outlines everything about their community or everything about the property that you need to know.

You’ll want to see that lease.

Generally speaking, in today’s modern internet age, they’ll just send it to your phone. There will be a nice eSigning process and you can sign it like that.

Slow down.

Read the fine print.

Take the time.

You’ve already been approved.

Take the time to protect yourself and to protect the homeowner, or the landlord, or the property management company.

Make sure it is a good fit for you

If you’re not a good fit, just based on the lease, well… why would you tie yourselves up into a problem?

Let’s say the property doesn’t allow pets.

And up to this point, you’ve never talked about pets, and you have five Great Danes. In a one-bedroom apartment… that might not be a good fit. Especially if there’s a policy against pets.

So please, take the time to read the lease.

And if you need to I’ll read it. I love reading leases. I’ve learned something every single time I read one. They’re amazing. They have so much history and context to them. So take the time to read it.

What’s Next?

So let’s say you’ve read through it. You don’t mind it. You don’t need to negotiate any of the details in the lease, there’s no need to.

Well, what do you do from there?

Well in your lease it will spell out all the rent monies and deposits that are owed for taking possession of the keys of this property, whether you need renter’s insurance, utilities, and how maintenance works. If you’re okay with all that then go ahead and authorize it.

You’ll send the lease in either from its e-signing service or just the printed version of it and you’ll give that over to the property manager the landlord or the homeowner and they’ll have a chance to review the lease one more time.

If they need to make any adjustments or addendums or fix anything that they have in there, they’ll have the chance to do so. If there’s nothing like that there, they’ll just go ahead and authorize it and they’ll say, “All right, before you can take possession of the keys. You need to fulfill the agreements spelled out in the lease.”

Those Agreements are you’re usually going to look like:

  • Rent money and
  • Deposits
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Utilities
  • Lastly any kinds of additional online services that you need to be a part of in order to communicate maintenance concerns or owner requests or anything else like that.

So that should give you an idea of what happens there.

Rent money and deposits

So you’ve gotten the rent money in the form of a check, or you’ve paid online…

Most homeowners do not accept cash. And if you’re working with a homeowner, a landlord, or property manager that’s willing to accept cash… Don’t do that! Cash can get lost, and it can fit in your pocket. So you don’t want to do that that could be a scam.

So be careful there, get a check money, order deposit.

I even know some property management companies that you can go to a 7-Eleven with a little coupon card, and they scan it and you can pay 7-Eleven. And there is a nice third party service you can pay online, that’s something that a lot of companies that are going for online, that’s is fantastic.

You want to make sure you protect yourself, and that’s really important. So never pay in cash, just don’t do it. It’s not… the convenience of it… it is not there, at least not in the long run.

Deposits refundable and nonrefundable

Alright, so you’ve paid your rent money. Now, what about deposits?

I get this question sometimes, how much is refundable, how much is not refundable?

It will all be spelled out in the lease. And if it’s not spelled out in the least then why haven’t you talked with the homeowner about it? And we can help you with that, we can ask those questions of the homeowner, or the landlord, or the apartment manager because well… we do this all the time.

We help people just like you who are interested in renting a place.


So a portion of the deposit goes to fixing the unit after you leave. Every time anyone rents from anywhere, there’s going to be normal wear and tear while you live there and when you live… yeah, you scuff things up, you bang up stuff, you break things… it just happens.

Light bulbs need to get changed… the.. what are those called… the drip pans on the stove need to get changed out from time to time. And a fairly decent lease will spell out all of those charges in advance. But that’s where a non-refundable portion of the deposit is going to be outside of your control. And it fixes a lot of those things now beyond normal wear and tear.


The rest of the deposit is really to protect you and to protect the landlord.

So let’s say that you put a hole in one of the walls and you never talked about it during the term of your lease. Well, guess what, when you go to move out, when the landlord does their check out and they see this big hole they get to take that portion of the security deposit in order to fix that. That way they don’t have to sue you. They just use that as liquidated damages.

And if you haven’t seen my video about earnest money, please go ahead and check out the link on that one.

It’s just a way of remuneration for mistakes that happen. We’re human and so we build into our system those kinds of monies that can protect us.

The Pet Questions

Generally, when it comes to pets. There’s not going to be a refund on that one. Sometimes there is, a lot of times there’s not.

Last word about deposits

And yeah… you’ll just want to make sure you understand what parts are non-refundable and what parts are refundable. And the portion, which is refundable, what could potentially be lost.

I hear a lot when people are going to rent a property they say hit I never get the deposit back. Well, are you just really tough on properties or do you not understand what your deposit covers?

Now let’s say that your got that all squared away. You got all your deposits covered and everything looks great there.


Well… that’s awesome… and I am looking really red in the video….

There’s a red light here…

Anyway, so the utilities is a is another really important aspect:

  • You’re going to want to call the gas company.
  • You’re going to want to call the internet company.
  • You’re going to want to call the electric company.
  • You’re going to call every utility that you’re responsible for your term of renting to move into this home.

Utilities is a give and take

And when you have a landlord who is taking as a part of the lease agreement control of those things, I’d be a little worried. Let’s say they don’t pay, that could be a problem for you when you have your water shut off and you’re not getting any water. That can be a problem.

But also some of those expenses you don’t really want to incur, say like… if you have a homeowner or a landlord who says that they pay for the gas, great. All included in my rent. I won’t even worry about it.

Renters insurance

Then you also have stuff like renters insurance. I don’t know a rental policy that covers renters insurance. Just get it. I mean the 20 bucks a month can save you thousands in the event of a fire, theft, flood. I mean, it can be huge.

So consider that as mandatory because a lot of apartment managers will not give you keys unless you have renter’s insurance. Some will. But really, it just protects you. But others are very serious and they want you to have that renters insurance policy in advance.

Possession of the keys

So once you’ve gotten everything all spelled away the rent monies, the renter’s insurance, utilities, the lease is signed, you’re approved, everything’s great hunky-dory. Then you’re going to have a walkthrough of the property.

Your prior to rent inspeciton

You’re going to go take a look and it’s going to be your final walkthrough. This is where you’re going to have an opportunity with the landlord, apartment manager, the homeowner, to look at and see the condition of the property and make sure it is the start.

This is where you’re going to take lots of pictures. This is we’re going to take lots of videos, this is where we’re going to take copious notes. If you see that scuff there on that wall on day one. Well, you’ll forget about it on day 365. If you don’t have a picture of it and a note of it, but you’re a partner manager when they go to take a view of that property, they’re going to see that scuff and they’re going to have a note from year here and year here and here of that scuff and they’ll charge you for it. I know them very well, and they will.

Go ahead and pull out your phone, scan everything. Look at everything, opened every drawer. I mean really burn the time because that’s what the property manager, the landlord, the homeowner, they’re there for you that day. So take as much time as you need with your new apartment, your new home, your new duplex unit.

Your list of maintenance items

Whatever it is, take your time and learn everything that you can moving forward so that when you are done with your initial walkthrough, you’ll have a list so you can say, “Okay, before I will take position…” see how this is a negotiation, folks “…before I’ll take possession of those keys. I need these fixed…” or, “In lieu of me taking those keys, I need these fixed…”

And if the homeowner agrees to X Y and Z then you say, “Okay, I’ll take these keys. And please have those fixed by this deadline.”

And guess what? That’s a part of the process.

So make sure you take as much time as you need to walk through the home, build your list, and make sure you protect yourself.

Welcome Home to Your New Rentals

Now, you have the keys.



Enjoy the term of your lease. Communicate any maintenance concerns that you have (in writing), and keep your landlord paid, in terms of rent or otherwise,you’ll get evicted

Maybe in another video. We’ll talk about eviction and what that means for you. Hopefully that never happens to you, but it can happen.

So we’ll explore that.


Thank you very much for watching this very long video about the leasing process or how to rent an apartment or how to rent a home. It’s been fantastic to talk about the process from start to finish so that you understand what we can do to help you in your renting process.

With that said, this is the SLC Real Estate Agency filming from the KW Salt Lake City Keller Williams offices in Sugar House, and we are so grateful for every like of our Facebook page. We are so grateful for every person who subscribe to this channel. Thank you very much for having us join us. Join you and your commute with our morning podcast. And lastly, thank you very much for taking the time to read this transcript. There’s a lot of really great content here, and you can get so much more when you read all of the content that we create.

So thank you again really do appreciate you guys. I hope you have a fantastic day, and let me know when you have any questions about how to lease or rent an apartment or or anything for that matter.

Have a great day.

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