Top Questions to Ask Before Renting an Apartment
Renting an apartment is serious business. You will be investing a lot of your monthly income to this new dwelling and you need to make sure certain important elements are in place before you sign on the dotted line.
You may be a first-time renter or someone who has rented before and had bad experiences. It is in everyone’s best interest to ask questions while you have the landlord or rental agent’s attention. Once you sign, it’s too late to change your mind.
So what are the most important things to ask about? If you’ve ever had a bad rental experience you’ve no doubt already started your own list. If you’re a beginner to renting be sure to ask specific questions about:
- Payment. Find out what the application fees. Get in writing what the move-in costs are like first month’s rent and security deposit. Some landlords require more than one month’s rent as well as your last month’s rent. Will renter’s insurance be required? (This is highly recommended even if it isn’t.) Find out what forms of payment are accepted. Are utilities included or will you need to open accounts on your own with the utility companies? Anything that has to do with money exiting your pocket, ask about it.
- Rules. Knowing these in advance could mean the difference between being evicted or not being evicted. Some landlords are very strict while others give you more leeway. Ask if pets are allowed. Can you have overnight guests and for how long? Can you paint the walls and hang pictures? Ask for a written list of rules that you can keep handy in case your landlord likes to make up rules as they go along. This isn’t legal unless they inform you in writing and in advance.
- Your Surroundings. This is one of the most important areas to research and you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother. It’s especially vital if you’re new to the city and you don’t know anyone already living there who can give you the real scoop. Ask about crime in the area or streets you should avoid after dark. Ask about potential pests like roaches or rodents; are they a problem in your building? Ask if the police have been called to the area recently.
Much of being a savvy renter is using common sense and planning. By asking the right questions in advance of any commitment you’ll be well on your way to becoming one.