Yes, a 17-year-old can technically sign a lease agreement and rent an apartment. However, most landlords will not consider this because they know that the renter would not likely be held contractually liable should anything happen. A person must be considered an adult to be bound by a contract.
For a landlord to rent an apartment to a 17-year-old, they will typically want them to be legally emancipated or to have their parents involved. Emancipated minors are legally recognized as adults even before officially reaching the age of adulthood, also known as the "age of majority."
Some landlords might be open to renting to a minor if they have the written consent and involvement of a parent or legal guardian. The parent or guardian would be legally responsible for the lease terms if the 17-year-old, as a minor, cannot fulfill them.
- Know the Laws in Your Area
- Be Prepared to State Your Case
- Think About Getting a Guarantor
- Decide if You Will Be Living Alone or With Others
- Review Your Lease and Know Your Rights
- Get To Know Your Apartment Building and Surrounding Area
1. Know the Laws in Your Area
The first step to renting an apartment at 17 is to familiarize yourself with local laws. You need to verify if you are able to rent an apartment at 17 in your area, and if so, what you need to do to make it happen. Laws can vary depending on your location, so it's important to research the legal requirements for renting in your specific area.
2. Be Prepared to State Your Case
The rental market can be quite competitive. Since you are already at a disadvantage due to your age, you should be prepared to discuss your steady employment, credit, income, and any other factors that might give you an edge. You should also have any necessary documents and identification ready, as well as any required deposits. Consider submitting reference letters from adults that affirm your reliability and capacity to meet rent commitments, as these could offer valuable support.
3. Think About Getting a Guarantor
Once more, due to your age, you could be required to have either parental or guardian consent to rent on your behalf, with them assuming responsibility for the lease conditions, or a legal adult may need to co-sign the lease as a guarantor. If you have a trustworthy individual willing to take on this role, it would likely be your strongest point when negotiating with landlords.
4. Decide if You Will Be Living Alone or With Others
Often, the main reason for choosing to live with others is to make the rent more affordable. Having a roommate can also give you peace of mind, especially if you are living in an unfamiliar area. It might help your case to rent an apartment at 17 if you will be leasing the apartment with a roommate or roommates who are legal adults. Nonetheless, from a legal standpoint, one of the aforementioned criteria would still need to be met to enable you to sign the lease and be held contractually responsible.
5. Review Your Lease and Know Your Rights
After finding an apartment and landlord that will approve you, it's essential to review the terms of your lease and know your rights as a tenant. Once a landlord decides to rent to you, you should have the same legal rights as any other tenant. Consult with a parent, guardian, attorney, or other trusted adult whenever possible.
6. Get To Know Your Apartment Building and Surrounding Area
Before signing on the dotted line (or having someone sign for you), make sure you feel comfortable in the apartment and area you are renting in, especially if you will be living alone. Moving can be daunting, and your living environment significantly shapes your life. So make sure you feel at home in the apartment, house, building, and/or area you will be living in.
Renting an apartment at 17 can be challenging due to legal age requirements and financial limitations, but it's not impossible. If you find the right landlord and make a strong case showcasing your maturity and financial responsibility, you stand a good chance of achieving your goal. Once you become a renter, carefully manage your finances and build up your savings both before and during your rental tenure. This will help you meet monthly rent obligations and establish an exemplary rental history that will serve you well as you transition into adulthood.