can you rent an apartment at 16

Can You Rent an Apartment at 16? How to Do It the Right Way

Did you know that, on average, most people are 19 years of age when moving out of the house for the first time? However, can you move out earlier and can you rent an apartment at 16? 

The rules regarding the renting of an apartment by a minor differ from state to state. It also depends on whether or not the minor is legally emancipated. But, in some cases, it is possible that a minor can move into an apartment rental. 

If you want to know more about the answer to this question, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll be exploring how to rent an apartment at 16, what kind of rules and regulations are involved, as well as some of the legal aspects of this subject. Whether you’re a 16-year-old or someone who wants to know what a 16-year-old is legally capable of, you’re sure to find this article useful. 

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the ways a 16-year-old might be able to move out and obtain an apartment rental.

Can You Rent an Apartment at 16?

As mentioned previously, most people want to move out of their parent’s homes when they’ve matured. This is often age 19 or older, sometimes into one’s mid-twenties.

This gives them time to find stability in a job where they can make their own money and support themselves when it’s time to move out. At the age of 18, known as the age of majority and over, people are also considered legal adults and because of that, the paperwork required to move into an apartment becomes much easier. 

However, there are some cases where people want to move out much younger, such as at the age of 16. This decision may come about for many reasons. For example, the 16-year-old may come from an unstable home and may feel safer and more independent living elsewhere. 

The problem with this is that minors under the age of 18 are not yet considered legal adults. This means that minors cannot sign legally binding contracts and if these contracts are signed by a minor, they cannot be legally binding. Since many types of apartments require the signing of many different contracts, this is a big barrier for those who wish to move out at the age of 16. 

Not only is this problematic for the minor, but trying to rent an apartment to a minor can put a landlord in big trouble. This in itself might deter many landlords from renting apartments to minors in the first place. Beyond this, another reason landlords might not want to rent to minors is that they might fear that the minor might demonstrate immature or disruptive behavior. 

While the information presented so far makes it sound that it’s impossible for a 16-year-old to rent out an apartment, this is not quite the case.

The Rules Regarding the Signing of Contracts by Minors

While contracts signed by minors are not binding, there is a way to subvert this problem. If the landlord is willing to rent out an apartment to a minor, the landlord will need to ask for an adult’s signature. This signature should be from a parent, a guardian, or any adult that will be responsible for making sure the rent is paid on time and that the apartment is not damaged. 

With an adult signing the contract, the contract will be binding and the minor will be able to live in the desired apartment. This is often known as co-signing.

This is usually the process followed for minors who live on campus when going to college. In some cases, the parent or guardian pays the minor’s rent as well. 

This is also an ideal choice for minors since they usually do not have an established credit history. This is important because many landlords will not rent an apartment to those who do not have a reliable credit history. This is because the landlord will not be certain if the renter in question will be able to pay their rent on time every month. 

Since many people at age 16 don’t yet have full-time jobs, this is a valid worry for a landlord. However, the downside of co-signing is that a landlord can sue the adult if the minor destroys the apartment or does not pay the rent on time.

But what if, for example, the parent or guardian might not want to sign or, on the other hand, the minor might not want the adult to sign? From here, let’s take a closer look at the other options for when minors want to find apartments for rent. 

The Age of Majority

The age of majority is considered the age people are able to make legally binding decisions. This age in most stages is 18. In some states, such as Mississippi, Nebraska, and Alabama, this age used to be lower but it has since been raised. 

The reason why the age of majority has been raised in other states is that the brains of minors are not fully developed. Even the brain of the most mature 16 year old will not reach its full potential for several more years. In fact, the age of majority in Nebraska and Alabama has been raised to 19 instead of 18 for this reason. 

You might be wondering if this can be considered age discrimination. According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords are not allowed to bar people from renting out an apartment based on their race, gender, religion, or national origin. This law does not address age explicitly. 

This makes the matter a legal gray area. While a landlord might not be able to legally prohibit a minor from renting an apartment because they are a minor, the landlord could prohibit the rental for other reasons that have been previously discussed.

This, of course, will feel very unfair to minors who want to move out as quickly as possible. There is, however, another way to make renting an apartment at 16 a possibility. This includes the emancipation of a minor. 

The Emancipation of a Minor

Becoming an emancipated minor can be difficult if you don’t have the required information. The rules for a minor to become emancipated also differ according to the state. However, the most common requirements to become emancipated include the proof of being able to live independently from one’s parents or guardians as well as the proof of income. 

By becoming emancipated, a minor is no longer considered legally supported by parents or guardians. In effect, an emancipated minor will live life as an adult and will need to handle adult responsibilities. Because of this, a minor’s parents or caregivers will no longer have any legal control over the minor’s life. 

By becoming emancipated, a gate of new opportunities is opened to a minor. For example, an emancipated minor will be able to sign contracts that are legally binding. However, there are some things that emancipated minors still cannot do such as vote, drink alcohol, get married without the consent of a parent or guardian, or quit school. 

The Ways to Become Emancipated

There are various ways a minor can become emancipated. The most direct way is by obtaining permission from a legal court. Minors may also become emancipated by joining the military or getting married. 

It is important to remember that these methods may not all be straightforward. For example, not all states allow minors to become emancipated through a court order. On the other hand, to obtain emancipation by joining the military, it is required to have a GED. 

However, if a minor is able to achieve emancipation, renting out an apartment will become a bit easier. This does not mean it will be as easy as it might be for other adults to rent apartments. An emancipated minor will still need to face the same challenges when finding an apartment as adults do.

Emancipated minors and adults alike can be turned away by landlords for various reasons. These reasons are usually financial. For example, the potential tenant’s income is not high enough to live in certain apartments. 

On the other hand, the tenant might have a poor credit report. This would deter landlords from renting out apartments because the tenant might not pay rent on time. 

When finding apartments to rent, most landlords also require the tenant to undergo a background check. If there is any criminal history found on a background check, this would also deter landlords from renting out apartments. 

However, if an emancipated minor has a clean record and a reliable income, they might be able to secure themselves a nice apartment. 

Renting an Apartment as a Minor

Can you rent an apartment at 16? By reading this article, you’ve found that the answer is “yes,” though it requires a bit of effort. You’ve learned how minors can rent an apartment through the support of a parent or guardian or through emancipation. 

To learn more about this topic, explore our website here.  

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