Finding the right apartment is not easy. If you’re a first-time renter, all of the terminology and concepts involved can be overwhelming. However, apartment hunting has come a long way in the 21st century. Thanks to sites like Craigslist and Zillow, it’s now easier than ever to find rental properties that meet your needs. The trick is knowing what to look for and interpreting what you see on the page since, unfortunately, the wrong decision could cost you time and money down the road. To help you navigate this process efficiently, here are a few things you need to look for when renting an apartment.
- Ask for a Walk-Through
- Check the Condition of the Appliances
- Be Aware of Any Rules and Restrictions
- Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
- Make Sure the Proposals Are in Writing
- Ask About Maintenance Responsibilities
- Find Out If You’re Paying a Security Deposit or Deposits
- Double-Check Your Conclusion by Talking to Previous Tenants
Ask for a Walk-Through
One of the first things you should do when touring a prospective apartment is to ask for a walkthrough. Some landlords will happily walk you through the space and point out any issues you need to be aware of. Others are more hesitant, as they’re concerned you’ll disregard or forget about any problems you see. If you’re working with a landlord who is reluctant to do a walkthrough, ask if they’ll be willing to take pictures of any issues they notice. No matter what, make sure you get a complete walkthrough before signing on the dotted line. This will allow you to have the opportunity to catch any issues you need to be aware of, ask questions about the surrounding area, and decide if the space is suitable for you. In addition, if something like an apartment with a garage and parking is essential for you, you’ll want to take a tour of the complex in addition to the walkthrough of the unit to see all of the amenities available for you.
Check the Condition of the Appliances
Next, you’ll want to check the condition of the appliances. This is important, as you never know what might happen with a landlord. What if they go out of business? What if they can’t pay the utility bills? What if they don’t have insurance? While these are all unlikely scenarios, they are still possible. It’s always wise to be aware of potential issues and take steps to protect yourself. When touring a prospective apartment, check the appliances. Are they clean and in good condition? If not, be sure to ask if they will be replaced before signing a lease. If they aren’t willing to replace them, that might be a sign you shouldn’t sign a lease either.
Be Aware of Any Rules and Restrictions
Next, be aware of any rules and restrictions. These will vary from apartment to apartment, but you need to be mindful of them before you sign on the dotted line. For example, if there is a strict pet policy, will you be able to keep your furry companion? Are there specific hours the pool is open and others when it is closed? Are there any other rules you need to abide by? If you’re not sure what these are, make sure you ask before you sign anything.
Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If a landlord is willing to work with you, you have nothing to lose by trying. The worst thing that can happen is they turn you down, at which point you can either walk away or try a different strategy. On the other hand, if a landlord is giving you a hard time or you see something you just can’t pass up, try negotiating. See if you can get a better price or concessions on extra fees. If they say no, don’t worry. This is a part of the process, and it happens to nearly everyone at least once in their lives. Just move on and find the right apartment for you.
Make Sure the Proposals Are in Writing
Next, make sure the proposals you’re receiving are in writing. While many landlords are honest, trustworthy people who will follow through on everything they promise, others are not so trustworthy. If you get a verbal agreement from a landlord, it isn’t easy to hold them to their word. If you want to be sure you follow all the rules of the road, make sure everything is in writing. This includes everything from price, to when you need to pay, to what the security deposit is, to what utilities you’re responsible for. Also, make sure the lease doesn’t contain anything you disagree about.
Ask About Maintenance Responsibilities
One thing you should ask during your apartment tour is who is responsible for maintenance. While landlords are responsible for major repairs, minor ones are typically your responsibility. If you see something that needs to be repaired and you can’t get a landlord to take care of it, you might be stuck having to pay for it yourself. Ask your tour guide if they have a maintenance contract. If they don’t, ask what the procedure is for taking care of minor issues. If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with maintenance issues yourself, ask if there is an on-site manager or maintenance staff you can call.
Find Out If You’re Paying a Security Deposit or Deposits
Finally, you should find out if you’re paying a security deposit or multiple deposits. Although it’s standard for landlords to ask for a security deposit when renting an apartment, many don’t disclose how much you’re paying upfront. This is where the issue of deposits can become confusing. Some landlords will ask for a security deposit, but others may ask for multiple deposits. For example, you might be asked for a deposit for electricity, water, cable, a pet deposit, or a non-refundable cleaning fee. If there are multiple deposits, ask how they will be applied and when you will get them back.
Double-Check Your Conclusion by Talking to Previous Tenants
Finally, double-check your conclusion by talking to previous tenants. If you haven’t done so already, this is the perfect time to do so. Apartment hunting can be a stressful and time-consuming process. You might be eager to sign the lease as soon as you find the perfect apartment for you. Before you do, make sure to talk to the previous tenants. This way, you can get a feel for the landlord and the quality of their apartments. You can also ask about any issues they experienced while living in the building. If they had problems with their landlord, this is your chance to walk away without looking back!