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How To Rent An Apartment In English: Vocabulary Edition

Phrases for renting an apartment

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Have you ever tried to rent an apartment on your own? It is a pretty challenging and exhausting time in your life alone, not to mention doing it in English. If you plan to move to an English-speaking country and you need to rent an apartment, you have to be ready to present your best English skills. Even if you are good at online apartment hunting in your country, you still need to be able to operate the vocabulary for renting an apartment in English. 

Do you know what a landlord, tenant, professionals only, and utilities are? Do you know what to ask a real estate agent or landlord when you go to see a place? Do you know what to say when you are interested in an apartment? If any of that raises doubts in your head and makes you feel anxious, you just need to work on your English more to rent an apartment in English confidently. So start with reading this article! We provide all the basics in terms of the vocabulary needed to rent an apartment in English. 

Must Know Vocabulary For Renting An Apartment

There are many things you need to know when moving to an apartment alone. But when you are looking for a place to live in English, it can be even more frustrating. That is why we decided to take care of you and created a list of words for renting an apartment in English. Memorize them well and feel empowered going through the rent advertisements.  

Landlord

If you are looking for an apartment, you should know what the landlord is. Because, in terms of renting, it's your most important person. Why? Because the landlord is a person who owns a building, an apartment, or a property and is willing to rent out. They decide whether you are a good potential renter, what the rental price is, and if your cat or dog is allowed to stay in their real estate. The landlord is your first person to go to if you need to fix or change something in your rental apartment. 

Tenant

The tenant is the second most important word when renting an apartment because it emphasizes you. A tenant is an individual who is renting the property. Once you sign a contract, you become a tenant. 

Price range

Only the sky is the limit. That's a perfect saying that describes rent prices these days. You can find an apartment for 1000 dollars or 10000 dollars. So, it's crucial to define your price range – the amount of money you can and are ready to pay for your rent. 

High rise/sky high

People who dream of moving to a big city such as New York or Toronto usually picture living in tall buildings with panoramic windows to the floor that they see in every Hollywood movie. Those are called high risers or sky highs. High rise is a tall apartment building with more than five floors and an elevator. The rental price for apartments in sky high may include using common areas, gym, rooftop, etc. 

A one-bedroom property

Renting out an apartment, the landlord will describe it as one or two or any other number of bedrooms in English. In Western countries, people don't think about apartments in rooms counting a living room as in eastern countries, for instance. So when they say there are *a number* of bedrooms in the place, they also mean that apartment has a living room usually connected to a kitchen and at least one bathroom. Any additional spaces will always be listed in the advertisement. 

Studio

At the beginning of adulthood, many young people rent a studio - a small apartment for one or two - with one large room for sleeping and living in. Sometimes studios can have separate kitchens, but usually, except for the bathroom, the whole apartment is one united space. 

Furnished/unfurnished

For residents of some countries, the following information might be shocking, so prepare yourself. Apartments for long-term leases usually come unfurnished in the US, Canada, and Australia. It means only the kitchen and bath have the necessary furniture and all beds, sofas, dressers, etc., you must buy yourself. In contrast, apartments for short-term lease come fully furnished. So remember that if you don't want to move to an empty place by accident. 

Roommate/flatmate

The rent in big cities across the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia can be expensive. For that reason, many people decide to share an apartment with a friend, colleague, or even a total stranger. That is perfectly normal and common practice in many countries. The person who lives with you in an apartment and pays rent is your roommate (US) or flatmate (UK), depending on the country. People always notice that there are other tenants in a place giving advertisements. So, if you want to live alone, pay extra attention and make sure there is no word "roommate" or "flatmate" in the posting. 

Professionals only

Looking for an apartment, you can come across the notice "for professionals only" in the advertisement. What does it mean? Landlords prefer stable tenants who are full-time working professionals with high incomes. When you see "for professionals only," be sure that a student or somebody on government benefits won't be able to get the apartment. Landlords want to be sure that a person can afford the rent, pay their bills, and not ask for payment delays. 

To arrange a viewing

Once you find some options you want to see in person, you can ask the landlords to show them to you. Then, it's called "to arrange a viewing." For arranging a viewing, you need to agree with a real estate agent or/and landlord on a suitable day and time and specify the apartment address. 

Employer reference

When the apartment is available for rent “only for professionals”, the landlord will need to see proof of your employment. Such a document is called an employer reference. It confirms that you are a reliable person with a stable income. 

Proof of income

The landlord can ask you for proof of income to ensure that you can pay for rent and all the bills you need. It's a salary statement showing you have a regular income covering your expenses. 

Credit history

The critical thing that landlords always check about potential tenants is their credit history. It's a public record of your credit and debt in the past. They usually include loans, debts, and former leases. If you don't have a credit history in the country you moved to, or it doesn't look good, you still have a chance to rent an apartment you like. You just need to find a guarantor, a person with a good credit history who will sign to pay your rent if you can't do that. 

To make an offer

You can make an offer when you finally find an apartment that fits your criteria. By making an offer, people understand to let the real estate agent or/and the landlord know that you would like to sign a lease and rent the apartment. 

Damage/security deposit

Landlords want to be secure that nothing terrible will happen to their property. However, they can never be sure about it with any tenant. So, after signing the rental contract, they will ask for a damage deposit. A damage deposit is a fee that may equal up to 6 weeks` rent you have to pay in advance and won't be returned if you damage the apartment. Unfortunately, some landlords can be tricky, and they try to keep the damage deposit for minor things. So, be smart and take out Deposit Insurance. 

Pet deposit

If you want to move in with your doggy or any other pet, in most cases, landlords won't mind. But they will usually ask you to pay a pet deposit, a one-time small fee letting your pet live in the apartment. Landlords may charge you for every pet separately. 

Lease agreement

A lease agreement is a type of tenancy contract with a fixed rental period (six months, a year, or longer). In that document, the landlord gives a list of do's and don'ts, notes the rental price, and other important information for both parties. By signing the lease agreement, the landlord and the tenant agree to follow the contract for the rental period. Later you can renew it. 

Utilities/bills

When you rent the apartment, the fees you will pay monthly are not limited to the rental price only. Every month you will have to pay for essential household services such as water, electricity, gas, and Internet. Those are called utilities or bills. Some of them can be included in the rental price. Before signing the lease, always clarify what the bills are. 

What To Ask: Phrases For Renting An Apartment

When you know essential apartment terminology for renting, it's time to move to the questions you have to ask the real estate agent or/and a landlord. Once you have arranged a viewing, you should consider what is crucial for you to know about the property, building, area, neighbors, and owner. It will help you to prepare good questions to ask. If it's your first time renting an apartment in English and you don't know what to ask, no worries. We got you covered. We created a list of 20 questions you must ask the real estate agent or/and a landlord before signing the lease and moving in. 

20 Questions To Ask Before Moving In:

  1. How much is the rent?
  2. Who is the landlord?
  3. Does the rent include utilities? 
  4. What are the average bills?
  5. Which floor is the apartment on? Does a building have an elevator?
  6. How close is it to a subway station or a bus stop?
  7. What is the pet deposit if I want to live with a pet?
  8. Does the apartment have air conditioning?
  9. Are there washing and dryer machines in the apartment?
  10. What is a security deposit?
  11. Is the apartment furnished?
  12. Who are the cotenants? 
  13. What other areas in the building to use that are included in my rent?
  14. Why a previous tenant moved out?
  15. How long has the apartment been on the market?
  16. What is the local area like?
  17. Who are the neighbors? Are they noisy or troublemakers?
  18. When was the last renovation?
  19. Have anything terrible happened in the apartment? 
  20. Can I have a small discount?

What To Say When You Are Interested In An Apartment

When you finally find that one apartment that you absolutely love, you need to show interest. And that's where all twisted games start. You can't be overexcited and run to your real estate agent or landlord begging to give the apartment to you. Like in any relationship, that's not the way it works. So instead, you should say the right things at the right moment. But what to say when you are interested in an apartment to make a landlord sign a lease with you and not somebody else? We have some ideas here for you. 

  1. Don't announce that you are ready to rent the apartment during the viewing. It's a time for a thorough checkup and asking questions. Consider it a first date with your apartment, but don't get too excited since someone else can be a better match. 
  2. After 24-48 hours after the viewing, contact your real estate agent or landlord. Be genuine and tell them that you liked the apartment and would like to sign a lease. For instance, you can say next: "Thank you for considering me as a tenant. Yesterday during the viewing, I understood that the apartment would be a good option for me. It's located in a nice area, and the neighbors seem to be nice people. So, I hope we can sign a lease for a year starting this May."
  3. If you don't like something in the apartment or some things needs to be fixed before moving in, let your future landlord know. They need to understand that it is a deal breaker for you, and you might not rent the place without improvements. For example, you can say: "I would love the rent the apartment. However, the air conditioner must be fixed before I move in. Plus, I would really appreciate it if you could change the carpet in the living room. It looks unpresentable. Since it's my suggestion, we can split the cost of its replacement."
  4. Clarify the money aspect before rejecting other options. Tell the real estate agent or landlord that initially, the rent price was $1834, for instance. Don't be shy to ask for a small discount. Who knows, maybe they will be in a good mood, and that won't be a problem. What to say: "As I remember from our dialogue, the rent price is $1834. However, I am considering renting a place for up to $1800. I would really appreciate it if you could make the rent price exactly $1800. I promise you won't regret this decision because I always pay rent on time and never cause trouble."
  5. Remember that the landlord is the one who makes the final decision. Following our tips, you did your best in communication. So, regardless of the outcome, be proud you could handle the renting process in English. 

Learn An Apartment Terminology With Promova

The first thing you should do to be able to rent an apartment in English is to learn all the necessary apartment terminology. You can do that with the learning languages platform Promova, which allows you to learn English through English. 

Start with the "Home, sweet home" course on the Promova app. It will provide you with some basic apartment description words. Learn what different parts of a house or building are called and what things you can find in the living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Then, memorize cozy details and everyday objects with cute flashcards with sentence examples. 

The next great thing you can do to improve your skills to the level where you can rent an apartment in English is to get into a tutoring program. Promova offers lessons with professional certified native-level tutors for a wide variety of teaching expertise such as American English, British English, Speaking English, English Grammar, etc. By the way, you can always ask your tutor to prepare you for a call with the real estate agent or landlord to help you write an application for the apartment and to simulate the apartment viewing conversation to get ready for it. 

Conclusion

If you ever decide to rent an apartment in any country in English, after reading this article, you can do it without any problems. Now you know renting an apartment vocabulary, questions you must ask your real estate agent or/and landlord, and what to say when you are interested in an apartment. So, you won't be caught in a moment when you agree to pay a pet deposit when you don't have any pets just because you didn't know what that was. You won't be surprised that you must pay extra for utilities because you asked if bills were included in the rent. And you won't be dying from heat in the apartment with the broken air conditioner because you asked to fix it before you sign the lease and move in. At the end of the day, your apartment is your safe place. So, be smart and prepare yourself before renting an apartment in English. 

FAQ

Do "apartment" and "flat" mean the same?

Both words emphasize the same set of rooms for living with housekeeping facilities designed for use as a dwelling. They differ only by country of use. Thus, "flat" is a British term and the "apartment" is an American term. But how did it happen that people in the USA didn't acquire the word "flat" and came up with their variant?

Even though there were many British immigrants on the territory of the United States, they couldn't popularize the term "flat." However, diverse immigrants from all over Europe in the US liked the Italian word "appartamento" more, so they modified it and made "apartment" out of it. 

The bottom line is that British "flat" and American "apartment" are synonyms. However, Canadians won't use any of those terms. Instead, they prefer to call their places "condominiums" or short "condos." At the same time, Australians use both "flat" and "apartment"; on top of that, they also use the term "unit." 

What are the most expensive and cheapest states to rent an apartment in the US?

According to Apartment List, an online listing marketplace, as of 2022, the most expensive US state to rent an apartment in is Hawaii. The average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment there goes up to $1,718. The second place in the list goes to New York, with an average rent of $1,678. And the state closing the TOP-3 most expensive US state to rent an apartment in is California, where you have to pay, on average, $1,658 for one bedroom. 

In contrast, the cheapest rent for a one-bedroom in the US you can find in North Dakota is $703 on average, Iowa takes second place with $724, and third place goes to Arkansas with $767. 

How to call an apartment apart from a "flat," "unit," or "condo"?

There are a lot of different synonyms for the word "apartment." Depending on many factors, you may want to call the place you are living in one of the options: apt, gaff, crib, man-cave, bachelor pad, walk-up, etc. 

What does the phrase "live in the head rent-free" mean?

"Live in the head rent-free" is a slang phrase. It means you can't stop thinking about something or someone without a specific reason. You can't get rid of the thought; no matter how hard you try, it won't move any time soon. People usually use this phrase referring to funny videos, stupid facts, or catchy songs. 

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