Moving into an apartment is always something of a leap of faith. Especially for the first time; how are you supposed to know what to look for when viewing an apartment? You’re moving in with people you don’t know, and that doesn’t just apply to roommates. Your neighbors, landlord, and maintenance workers are all going to be over at some point. So it’s important to read the fine print and ask some serious questions. Why? If you don’t, you may be a week into your lease without hot water. I for one can vouch that it is not a pleasant experience. These nine questions can be a good starting point!
Take the time to sit down and go over the details of the lease with your new landlord. Not only will it give you a chance to ask any questions you might have, but it also gives you an opportunity to talk to your landlord.
Some places will let you paint, some won’t. Most places will allow you to hang pictures, but you could run into issues when hanging heavier items like guitars. If you’re allowed to paint, many places will have limits on acceptable colors and will want to approve your choices first.
A lot of people have decided that certain cable companies – I won’t name names – are too much hassle to mess with. So what do you do when you’ve cut the cord and dropped the cable? You stream it! Of course, for streaming, you need to know what kind of reception you can expect. If it gets spotty during business hours, that might make sick days at home a bit less fun.
Never overlook parking in an apartment complex. Having an assigned spot is an enormous benefit that many people don’t consider. Bonus if there’s off street parking or even a garage! You’ll also want to know how many cars are allowed, if there are hose hookups for washing and if you can do any maintenance in the lot. You’ll also want to ask what happens if you violate those rules, because there’s a big difference between getting a ticket and getting towed.
This isn’t something you’ll always encounter, but if the building is newer, you might need to have special access. Even if you’re sharing a duplex, there’s a chance you might at least need to know the password to deactivate the security system. No one wants that going off when you try and come in at midnight, only to rudely awaken your new neighbors.
If you don’t have any pets, this isn’t as important, but you might still run into a situation where you’re asked to pet-sit for a friend, or you find a kitten under your car. Find out ahead of time what the pet policy is, and what you would do in the event of pet-sitting or adoption. It’s not good to take a pet home, only to give it up later if your landlord finds out. I mean, c’mon, look at this face!
Emergency repairs are always something you should know about. A pipe will never burst at a convenient time, so it’s most likely going to happen at about 4 a.m. There should be someone you can call at 4 a.m., because there’s a good chance that you won’t have the keys to get to the water main.
It’s good to know ahead of time if your landlord is willing to work with you on late payments. Many of them will give you some time so long as you pay something, but others won’t. You also need to know who will be on the hook for payments if you have a roommate.
This, of course, can make or break an apartment. If you get an awesome deal, you might find a place that includes all utilities. If that place is in your price range, do whatever you need to do to get in, because that is the equivalent of finding a unicorn on the subway. Otherwise, you just need to figure out the follow-up questions. Many landlords take care of water, trash and snow removal, but some don’t. If you’re paying for heat, you should find out what kind you’re dealing with: electric, oil or gas.
These nine questions might not cover absolutely everything, but they will give you a solid grasp of the kind of environment you’re dealing with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you’re the one that’s going to be living there, after all.
What has your experience been with renting an apartment? Have any additional must-ask questions? Let me know in the comments below!