Finding an apartment can be a fun experience, but it can also be stressful and challenging (difficult). It’s doubly (two times as) challenging if you’re apartment hunting (searching) in your second (or third or fourth) language. For just these cases, we thought some English for renting an apartment could come in handy (be useful).

I found my current apartment all in German, and sometimes I even need to communicate in German for the upkeep (keeping up, maintaining) of the apartment. It can be really frustrating to communicate if you don’t have the right words!

With that in mind, here’s some English for renting an apartment.

Rent (noun)/ To Rent (verb)

Living in an apartment is a bit different from living in a house. Many people rent (verb) an apartment by paying rent (noun) every month to the owner of the apartment.

Rent (noun) is the money you pay every month in exchange for living in a place owned by someone else. To rent (verb) is the action of paying and living in an apartment.

For example:

  • My rent is increasing because the building needs to be renovated.
  • The rent is $500 per month.
  • I’m renting an apartment in the center of town.
  • I used to rent a one-room apartment.

Landlord / Landlady

A landlord/landlady is the person you pay rent (give the money) to each month. They own either the apartment or the whole building. When you move into an apartment, you sign a contract with the landlord that explains the conditions for living there: how much rent you must pay, what’s included (inside, with) in the rent, if there is an annual (yearly) increase rate for rent, whether you are allowed to have pets, etc. Your landlord is also the person who handles larger maintenance issues in your apartment, like if something breaks or needs to be redone.

For example:

  • Has the landlady called you yet? Did we get the apartment?
  • My landlord is raising my rent next year to pay for some work that needs to be done on the building.


Sadly, this is not a deposit in your bank account, but rather a deposit on your apartment. When you start renting a new apartment, you usually have to pay a fixed set of money – a deposit to the landlord -normally the equivalent of two month’s rent. This money is saved (reserved) in case you fait to make a payment (pay the rent) sometime, or is used by the landlord when you move out in case the apartment needs some things fixed (for example, holes in the wall, if there are remaining charges (fees), minor damages, etc.). If your landlord agrees that your apartment is in good condition when you move out, they’ll transfer (return, send) your deposit back to you when you move out.

For example:

  • I borrowed some money from my parents to pay the deposit on my apartment.
  • Because my grandma owns my apartment, I didn’t have to pay a deposit.


When you’re looking for an apartment, some people like to use a real estate agent (professional) to help them find the perfect place. If you do, the agent may take a commission when you buy an apartment or a house. A commission is the percentage of a sale (money) that goes to the person who made the sale. You may have heard the phrase “working on commission,” which means that the person has a very small salary, if any, and makes the vast majority of their income (money) from commission on the sales they make.

For example:

  • The real estate agent made a huge commission when they sold the mansion.
  • The sales person made a small commission off of the sweater they sold.

Are you ready to go apartment hunting now? Tell us your stories and if you’ve used English for renting an apartment in the comments below!

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Check out these other popular blogs: TV English VocabularyBanking English VocabularyEnglish Comma: Basic Rules, or these Commonly Confused Words used in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves her rented apartment.

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