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36 Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

Are you ready to move but not sure what you need to know? Come ready with these questions to ask when renting an apartment to put yourself ahead of the game.

From apartment amenities to fees and contracts, there are plenty of questions that need answers before signing a lease agreement, especially if you're renting for the first time.

36 Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

1. How Much Is the Rent?

One of the most important questions to ask when touring an apartment is regarding rent. Although it’s not the norm, ask if there's anything in the lease about raising the rent during your rental term.

If you found your apartment online and there was a rental price listed, confirm with the landlord that that price is accurate. You can also request a quote if your apartment offers a variety of optional features or floor plans.

2. How Do I Pay Rent?

Another important question to ask a landlord is how to pay your rent. It's still common for landlords to require a check or money order, especially in for-rent-by-owner units. However, more and more apartment complexes accept credit cards or ACH transfer through an online portal.

3. How Much Is the Security Deposit?

Your security deposit is a significant expense and should be addressed before signing a lease. While the amount will vary, it usually lies between one to three months of rent. If you’re trying to save money when leasing an apartment, look for move-in specials on Apartment List that may include waived or discounted deposits.

4. Do You Charge Other Move-In Fees?

Add move-in fees to your list of questions to ask when looking at an apartment. Aside from your security deposit, you'll need to pay an application fee, first and last month's rent, pet deposits, and a background check. These fees are often rolled into one move-in fee and may include a utility hook-up fee.

5. How Soon Are You Looking to Fill the Unit?

Asking a prospective landlord how soon they are looking to fill the unit can help provide you with a timeline you need to start planning your move. If a landlord is eager to fill the unit quickly, you might be able to negotiate some of the lease agreement terms.

6. What Utilities Are Included in the Rent?

Add utilities to your questions to ask when apartment hunting to get the full scope of your expenses. Sometimes all utilities are rolled into the rent, but you’ll likely pay for electricity, cooking gas, and extras like WiFi and cable. In many cases, landlords do pay for water, waste, and garbage. They may cover these in full or bill you as part of your monthly rent statement.

7. What Utility Companies Service the Area?

Once you clarify what utilities you’ll be personally responsible for when asking your apartment hunting questions, figure out who to pay and how to pay them. Find out what service providers the complex uses for electricity, gas, and internet before you move in to schedule them to be turned on.

Utilities can be turned on by calling the company that services your area and letting them know your move-in date. You may be asked to undergo a soft credit check to determine if you need to pay a deposit, and you will be given information about how and where to make your monthly payments.

8. What’s Your Late Fee Policy?

During your apartment viewing, ask about the late fee policy. It’s always best to pay rent on time to avoid fees and secure a good rental reference if you ever move somewhere else. But, of course, emergencies can arise where you have to pay rent late, so you should know about late fees before moving in.

9. Are Early Lease Terminations Allowed?

Even if you have no plans to move soon, asking about an early lease termination is wise. You could end up with a new job or decide to live in another neighborhood. In most cases, you’ll pay a penalty for ending your lease early. There are some situations where you may be able to end your lease early without penalty.

10. What’s Your Subletting Policy?

Subletting is another one of the things to ask when renting an apartment. If you or a roommate ever want to move without paying a penalty for a lease termination, you may be able to sublet. It’s also a great way to cover your rent if you ever want to travel for a while.

Top Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting

11. Is There Parking Available?

Parking is often challenging for renters, especially when renting in downtown neighborhoods. Your apartment questions should include how much parking costs, the parking policy, and if there’s a waitlist. Look for apartments with secured, gated garages and assigned spots to ensure you always have a place to park.

12. Do You Have a Pet Policy?

The pet policy should be on the top of your list of what to ask when looking at apartments. Renting with pets can introduce new challenges, and many apartment pet policies can be complicated. First, ask if the building is pet-friendly and what pets are allowed. Many landlords have breed restrictions or weight limits for dogs, so ensure your breed is cleared.

If you're looking for a new place using Apartment List, make sure to select "Dog" or "Cat" (or both) so you can get matched with a place that allows your furry friend. Look at the details of the apartment, visit their website, or reach out using our messaging system to learn more about specific restrictions.

13. What's the Pet Deposit/Pet Fee?

If your pet is allowed, ask about any required pet fees, like monthly pet rent or a pet deposit. Up to 40% of pet-friendly apartments require a deposit, and the average pet deposit is $287.

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14. What's the Application Process?

Each apartment complex may have a slightly different application process. Ask how long it usually takes to get approved for an apartment, any fees, and the next steps. You can get a full rundown of the process with our rental application guide.

15. Are There Any Income or Credit Requirements?

Other questions to ask before renting should include income or credit requirements. Landlords will often only consider applicants with a gross monthly income of 3x the monthly rent and require proof of income.

Your credit score will likely play a role in your apartment application, and while most landlords require a minimum credit score for an apartment of 650, it can vary. A credit check is usually a part of the application process, so be sure to ask before signing a lease.

16. Will My Rent Ever Increase?

If you plan to settle in one apartment for the foreseeable future, ask about any potential changes 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. So keep in mind the long-term when figuring out what things to ask when renting an apartment.

17. What Are My Lease Length Options?

A 12-month lease is the standard lease length, but other lease options may be available. Your apartment questions should include info on short-term leases, such as 6-month or 9-month leases, which could benefit you if you’re moving to a new city and getting to know the area. Remember that short-term and month-to-month leases provide the most flexibility but come at the highest price.

18. Is There an Application Fee?

Apartment application fees are usually around $50 to $74, with an average fee of $51. If you need to move quickly, ask how long it typically takes for an application to be approved.

Some landlords also want references to go with your application. Your previous landlords are the best rental reference, but a close friend or colleague will also work if you don't have a rental history.

19. Is Renters Insurance Required?

Asking about whether or not you need renters’ insurance is among the most important questions to ask before signing a lease. Your landlord may also require it as part of your apartment application to be approved.

You should strongly consider renters insurance, even if it’s not a requirement. It’s a relatively cheap monthly cost that could be lifesaving. For example, 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.

20. What Amenities Are Included?

Amenities are among the biggest perks of apartment living and should be part of your apartment viewing. Pools and gyms are common in apartment complexes, but luxury complexes can also offer things like co-working spaces and private dog parks.

Amenities may increase your rent, but you can also think about the financial implications, like canceling your gym membership and impacting the question, “how much rent can I afford?”

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21. Is There Storage Space Available?

Your questions to ask an apartment complex should include whether or not storage space is available. Inquire about the storage size, wait lists, how secure it is, and how much it costs. You may be able to rent a smaller apartment with free, on-site storage.

22. What Appliances Are Included?

When figuring out what to ask when looking at apartments, it's not always obvious to think about appliances. Most apartments will come standard with a fridge, oven, and stove. However, not all apartments come with microwaves, dishwashers, or laundry, which could be a deal breaker for you.

23. How Do I File Maintenance Requests?

Maintenance requests can be a big headache without a responsive landlord and system. Ask how they’re handled and how long they usually take. Smaller units or private condos may take some time to see repairs, but a larger apartment complex may come with a 24/7 maintenance team.

24. What Maintenance Repairs Are Covered in Lease Agreements?

Which repairs are covered should also be part of what questions to ask when renting an apartment. Most states require landlords to keep a rental unit in a habitable condition, including ensuring your electricity, heat, and water are working. Landlords typically cover wear and tear costs, like broken locks, but don’t pay for things you or your guests break.

25. What's the Guest Policy?

Some apartments have a guest policy to avoid people moving in and staying indefinitely without a lease. Property managers may also want to avoid too many guests taking advantage of communal amenities, like the swimming pool or gym. Ask about any rules relating to guests and how long they can stay.

26. Where Are Guests Allowed to Park?

If you're unsure what questions to ask when renting an apartment, add guest parking to your list. If parking is at a premium, guests can get towed when visiting. Plus, some apartment buildings also have areas reserved for guests away from the premium spots.

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27. Is There Apartment Security?

Your safety is integral to your well-being, so make sure to consider it before you move. Ask about any apartment security, including in-unit alarm systems, deadbolts, or someone who monitors the lobby. Ask how safety issues are resolved, such as broken locks or poor lighting in common areas.

28. Do I Need a Cosigner or Guarantor?

Depending on your situation, you might need a consignor or a lease guarantor that is legally responsible for paying your rent if you can’t do it yourself. It’s a common request if you don’t meet the apartment’s income requirement or have poor credit. If you need a cosigner or guarantor, ask if you can remove them from the lease once you fulfill the requirements, like building up your credit.

29. How Much Notice Am I Required to Give Before Moving Out?

Moving out should be included in what to ask when renting an apartment. You may be required to give 30 days notice in writing or incur a fee or penalty. Even short-term leases, such as month-to-month, may require a few weeks' notice.

30. How Much Notice Must the Landlord Give Me If They Terminate or Cancel My Lease?

Just like you need to give notice if you move out, your landlord must also let you know if they want to terminate or cancel your lease. Ask how much notice they give and how. For example, they may send a registered letter or request a meeting.

31. What Are the Penalties for Breaking My Lease Early?

Even if you love the complex you’re touring, you may need to break a lease at some point due to a job change. Most leases will include penalties for breaking your lease early, so ensure this is among the questions to ask when viewing an apartment. You may have to forfeit your security deposit or pay additional fees to break the lease.

32. Are There Any Plans to Renovate the Building?

It’s never fun moving into a building and immediately dealing with renovations, noise, and construction activity. Ask if there are any plans to renovate the building or individual units. You may decide it’s worth the trade-off if it involves a new rooftop terrace or an update to the pool.

33. Is There Public Transportation Nearby?

Public transportation should always be on your list of questions to ask about apartments. It could dramatically reduce your car or rideshare budget and improve your commute time. Even if you don’t think there’s a subway or bus in the area, you may learn there’s a special shuttle for major stops and attractions.

34. What Changes Can I Make to My Apartment?

Leasing an apartment should offer some flexibility to make it your own. Ask if you can make any changes, from painting to putting up a wall to divide an oversized room. Landlords usually have a list of approved paint colors or changes but may amend your lease if your request is reasonable.

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35. What's the Neighborhood Like?

If you are new to the area, ask about the neighborhood, including the safety ratings, nearby hotspots, and the overall vibe. Then, outside of your landlord’s knowledge, do some research on your own! Check out the neighborhood's popular restaurants, bars, and nearby parks.

36. Would You Live Here?

Lastly, ask your prospective landlord’s opinion on whether they would live there. They’ll probably say yes right away, but you should always ask them to elaborate on why.

Find out what they love about the apartment and what they wished was different. These questions can help provide some honest clarity before leasing an apartment.

Make Your Next Move: Start Apartment Hunting with Apartment List

Knowing the right questions to ask when renting an apartment helps ensure you find the perfect place. Rather than waiting until you've already moved in, take the time to ask important questions during your apartment tour to help find a home you truly love.

Bring along these questions to ask before moving into an apartment to ensure you have everything covered during your apartment hunt. If you’re still looking for your next home, start your apartment search with our quiz!

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
SENIOR CONTENT ASSOCIATE
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Susan Finch
AUTHOR
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More

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