Looking for a rental home or apartment can be exciting and frustrating. However, you are more likely to find success when you follow a plan and know your rights.

Several Wisconsin and federal government web sites provide important advice. We provide some basic information below. You should refer to the Wisconsin and federal government sites for more information.

  1. Know your fair housing rights. Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, family status, or disability. For more information, visit our page concerning rights and responsibilities.
  2. Figure out how much you can afford. Some experts believe that you should budget about 25-30% of your income on housing. You may need financial assistance to afford a home. Visit our financial assistance page for information about the Kenosha Housing Authority financial assistance services.
  3. Determine your housing needs. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need to live close to schools? Do you desire easy access to bus service? Make a list before you start house hunting.
  4. Shop for the apartment or rental house. Visit several rental units. You can find apartments or rental homes through the newspaper, the web, and by visiting the apartment manager's office. You may need an appointment to visit some rental homes. Make sure you ask questions concerning who pays for utilities and responsibilities for repairs. In addition, to determine whether the department comes with furniture and appliances. Visit the following sites for more information related to finding an apartment.
    1. Don't Rent Trouble. Our web guide for inspecting a home.
    2. Apartment Checklist. Homestore.com's apartment inspection checklist and comparison form.
  5. Decide upon a home. Determine the home that is within your budget and best meets your needs. Use your checklist to help with the comparison. If you are using some sort of financial assistance, someone from the assisting agency may also need to visit the home.
  6. Fill out the rental application. The application typically requires information that is used to perform a credit check. This information may include bank account numbers, recent pay stubs, employer's phone number, a phone number of a close relative, and a photo ID.
  7. Inspect the rental home or apartment. Perform a detailed inspection of the rental unit. The landlord will probably have an inspection form that should be filled out. Alternatively, you can download a form from the HUD site. Make sure that you write down all blemishes to the rental unit. In addition, write down any items that should be fixed immediately by the apartment manager or owner of the unit.
  8. Sign the lease. The lease is a contract that defines the terms of the rental arrangement. The terms usually specify the rental time period (for example, one year), the monthly payment, your responsibilities as a tenant, and the landlords responsibilities. The lease will probably require a security deposit and first months rent. The security deposit is held until you move out the apartment. After you leave, the landlord will inspect the apartment, determine the cost of cleaning and fixing the apartment and then deduct the amount from the security deposit. The remaining portion of the security deposit is returned to you.
  9. Determine whether you desire renter insurance. Renters insurance can be obtained from many insurance agencies. Renters insurance protects your possessions in the case of damage (fire, flood) or theft.
  10. Move in to the apartment. Moving is a major project. Local moving companies can help but there is a significant fee. Consider asking for help from friends or relatives.
  11. Maintain your home. Maintenance of your home is vital. A properly maintained home is a safe home and is an important part of your lease and possibly a condition of any financial assistance.
  12. Obey your lease/rental agreement. Make sure that you pay your lease and your utilities on time. Obey any other conditions of your rental agreement (for example, allowance for noise and guests).