Washington, DC is a vibrant, exciting city to live in, but if you’re arriving here for the first time and looking to rent an apartment, it can feel overwhelming.
Before you sign anything, here’s what you need to know about how to rent a property in Washington, DC.
DC Property Market
In general, Washington, DC is an expensive city to live in and rent. It’s often ranked as one of the top 10 most expensive cities in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a rental that offers a good mix of value and space within your budget.
As you begin your apartment search in Washington, DC, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Have a list of must-haves: When you identify what is absolutely necessary, it will make your search much easier. Choose no more than three features and keep them centered as you search.
- Factor in your lifestyle: Are you single and planning to enjoy a lot of nightlife in the city? Do you need to be close to a good school? It may seem more expensive to live near a popular nightlife district or a good school, but when you factor in the cost of Uber rides, then you might actually save money by living close to something you plan to frequent.
- Remember to factor in amenities: Some apartment complexes offer free WiFi, utilities included or even in-house maintenance (all of Atlas Lane properties have 24/7 in-house maintenance). If the rent seems a bit high, look at the amenities to judge whether the higher rent is justified.
- Consider transportation access: Washington, DC is much easier to navigate when you don’t have a car. If you plan to use DC’s Metro or bus systems, then look for an apartment near a stop for better access.
- Line up your references: You’ll be filling out rental applications before too long, so line up your references and be ready to fill in information about your previous landlord.
Washington, DC can be a competitive market, but if you know what you want and are willing to go after it, you can find the perfect apartment that checks off all your needs.
Where to Search for Property in Washington DC?
It’s easy to find apartments to rent in Washington, DC, whether you have reliable internet access or not. Here are a few ways to find them.
- Take a walk: Have a neighborhood in mind? Take a walk through it and look for “apartments for rent” signs in windows and on fences. This is a great way to see the properties in person first before filling out an application.
- Real estate websites: Zillow, Realtor and Redfin all have rental listings for Washington, DC, but not every landlord is responsive through these platforms. These sites are great for finding properties, but you’ll need to contact the landlord or property management company directly.
- Property management companies: Companies like Atlas Lane help connect renters with great properties, and many have their own listings on their websites. Our site makes it easy for prospective renters to check out photos, amenities and benefits of all our properties.
- Student centers: If you’re a student at Georgetown or Howard universities, the student centers on campus almost always have apartment listings posted. These spaces can also be great for connecting with potential roommates.
Remember, Washington, DC properties move fast. If you see something you like, don’t wait to contact the property management company or landlord to schedule a tour.
Rental Prices in DC
The rental prices in DC do fluctuate, but here’s what you can expect to pay on average in rent in Washington, DC.
- Studio apartment: $1,647
- One-bedroom apartment: $2,223
- Two-bedroom apartment: $3,329
- Three-bedroom apartment: $4,533
These high rents can be a lot to swallow, but it’s important to remember the amenities that may be included in the rent. Living with roommates can also offset some costs.
Rental Legal Procedures for Tenants
As a tenant, you do have many protections under the law in Washington, DC, and there are also legal procedures that you need to follow in order to comply with the law and your lease.
Before you sign a rental agreement, here are some legal issues that you need to know:
- Landlords can request a security deposit, but that amount cannot be greater than one month’s rent? When you pay your deposit, the landlord must give a receipt stating how much was paid, when it was paid and what the security deposit actually covers.
- There is no law stating that a rental agreement must be in writing — but it is highly recommended.
- Landlords can also accept rent payment in any form they would like. At Atlas Lane, our tenants pay through a user-friendly portal.
- Landlords can raise rents, but there are limitations as to how much and when they can do this. You can read more about rent raises here.
The more you know, the better prepared you’ll feel when signing your first lease.
Need help finding an apartment in Washington, DC? Contact the pros at Atlas Lane today and we’ll help you find your next home.