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12 Questions To Ask When Renting An Apartment

November 30, 2018

It's crucial to know what questions to ask when renting an apartment, especially in the early stages of an apartment hunt. You might tour a beautiful property and immediately think it's the place for you. However, there are plenty of questions you should be asking when touring an apartment to ensure the home checks all of your boxes.

Ask these 12 questions before renting an apartment to make sure your new home is the perfect fit.

1. How Do I Pay Rent?

This varies from apartment to apartment and from landlord to landlord. Most apartment complexes will have some form of online payment for rent nowadays. However, ask if there are any additional costs/fees for paying online. Some apartments tack on additional fees for online payments.

It's also common for landlords to require payment via the form of a personal check. It's important to know this before moving in to ensure you have a checkbook handy.

Also, ask your potential landlord about late fees if you happen to be late on your rent for one month.

2. Will My Rent Ever Go Up?

If you are planning on settling down in one apartment for the foreseeable future, you should ask about any potential changes that could be coming when you renew your lease.

If you are in it for the long haul, you probably don’t want to live in a place that regularly raises its rent prices.

3. Is Renters Insurance Required?

Some landlords will require you to have renters insurance to rent one of their units. This isn’t a super common requirement, but it’s an important question to ask.

Renters insurance should be something you strongly consider even if it’s not a requirement. It’s a relatively cheap monthly cost that could be lifesaving. Renters insurance will cover the cost of your possessions that may have been lost or damaged due to burglary, fires, vandalism, etc, and typically only costs around $15-$30 a month.

4. What Are My Initial Move-In Costs?

How an apartment community handles the move-in process varies, so be sure to ask how much you will need to pay when moving in. First month’s and last month’s rent is common, but other costs like application fees and security deposits may also apply. 

Be sure to cover your bases as it will help with your budgeting plan and give you an idea of the overall costs of moving into your new apartment. If it's your first time renting an apartment or just want to get your finances in order, use our apartment budgeting checklist.

5. What Are My Lease Terms?

Get to know the ins and outs of your lease before signing. Be sure to know exactly when your lease ends and begins, and look at the options for lease renewal.

If you are planning to settle down in the apartment for a while this is something you should definitely know. This will answer a lot of the must-know questions, like when to give your notice to vacate and the details of your security deposit.

6. What Utilities Are Included and How Do I Pay Them?

Landlords will often cover utilities like water and garbage, which are normally bulked into your rent cost. The tenant usually pays gas, electricity, and heating costs. However, this varies apartment-to-apartment. Ask the property manager what utilities are covered in your monthly rent, and what you will be personally responsible for.

Take a look at the appliances around the unit and note if they are gas or electric. Gas appliances tend to be cheaper to run than electric. If you don’t have in-unit laundry, how much will it cost to make use of the laundry facilities?

To get an estimate of expected utility costs, ask the property manager what a tenant in a similarly-sized unit typically pays for utilities. You can also ask current or previous tenants what they have paid in the past to get a better idea. Or, contact the utility providers themselves and see if they could give you an estimate.

7. What Changes Can I Make To The Apartment?

Want to load your new home up with your favorite wall art, or paint the walls to something more your style? You’re going to have to go through your landlord first. If you are the kind of person who wants to add a personal touch to your apartment, check and see what's allowed before signing the lease.

8. Are There Any Plans To Update The Building?

This is an important question that could tell you a number of things. Planned updates taking place after you move in could leave you dealing with construction for a few months. This could affect noise level, views, or even your parking situation.

Updated amenities can be a plus and may lead to a better experience in your apartment community. Those same new amenities could also be the reason for your rent increases after your lease is up.

There are pros and cons, so it’s good to know of any plans to update the building in advance.

9. What Is The Parking Situation?

The parking situation could be a dealbreaker for a ton of people. If you have a car and live in a bustling downtown area, you already know that parking will be a challenge. If that highrise you’ve been eyeballing doesn’t have a parking garage, you might be doing circles around the building looking for street parking.

Find out if the apartment comes with parking options. Parking could be included in the rent or an additional cost. Depending on where you live, there may be options for covered parking spots, which are typically more expensive than a non-covered spot.

If there is no parking available, check out the street parking situation and scan nearby areas for parking garages that you can use.

10. How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

You never know when the need for an immediate emergency repair may arise. Find out how your landlord handles these urgent requests. Nobody wants to deal with a broken A/C on a hot summer’s day. Check to see if maintenance is available 24/7, and what the typical turnaround time is for repairs.

11. What's The Apartment Building's Pet Policy?

If you have rented with pets in the past, you know pet policies can be complicated. First, ask if the building is pet-friendly. Then, clarify what pets are allowed. Many landlords have certain breed restrictions for dogs, so make sure to get your breed cleared.

If your pet is allowed, figure out how much it's going to cost you. Most apartments will require either additional monthly pet rent, a one-time pet fee, or a pet deposit. Ask about these, and be sure to get your pet cleared and budget the potential additional costs.

For more information on the additional costs that go into renting with your pet, check out our complete guide on renting with pets.

12. What Is The Guest Policy?

Having visitors shouldn’t be an issue, but your friend’s stay might be limited. Some guest policies are stricter and landlords may want your visitors to sign in and not stay for longer than two weeks. Others will be more lenient. The details should be covered in your lease agreement. If there are any points of confusion, bring them up with your landlord. 

Additional Questions to Ask

  • What's the policy for subletting?
  • Are there any noise mitigation rules?
  • What happens if you need to break your lease?
  • Are there any salary/credit requirements?

Get all of the important questions you have out of the way early. It's best to start asking question when you first start looking at and touring apartments. Finding a home that you can live in isn’t complicated, but finding a home that you love and checks all of your boxes is another story.

Ask these questions during your apartment hunt to ensure you have everything covered before moving in. If you want to be sure you aren’t forgetting anything print out our apartment checklist to bring along on your tours.

By: Justin Chaplin
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