Are you among the 100 million Americans who rent their home? Are you moving into an apartment for the first time, or are you on the hunt for an upgrade to your current apartment?
Either way, there’s an apartment checklist that every renter should know. At the top of that list is important questions to ask when moving into an apartment.
How do you know you’re moving into an apartment that’s safe, comfortable, and affordable? Be sure to ask these questions when you first visit the property.
1. How Much Is the Rent & Security Deposit?
This might seem obvious, but rental prices fluctuate all the time.
For example, the advertisement you saw might have been for the summer season, but now it’s autumn and the rate has increased. Or, if the unit has been empty for a while, the landlord might have lowered the price to attract new tenants.
Whatever the case, always ask for clarification on the current price of the rent and the required security deposit (one to three months’ rent is common). The price often changes depending on the length of the lease, especially for month-to-month leases or contracts less than 12 months.
2. Which Utilities Are Included, and What’s the Average Cost of Utilities?
In some places, basic utilities like water and garbage are included in the price of the rent. Many short-term units include all utilities in the price, such as electric, gas, and heating.
However, never assume that any bills are (or are not) included without asking. If you find out that anything is not included, ask what the average costs run. You may be able to afford the rent, but can you afford to pay an additional $200-$300/month for utilities?
Get a crystal clear picture of what your monthly costs will be before you commit to a lease. Otherwise, you may find out too late that you can’t afford it.
3. What’s the Neighborhood Like?
This is a very telling question, especially if you’re new to the area. An online search can reveal crime rates and other vital facts, but a landlord can provide additional details about the community.
For example, an apartment community should be run by qualified professionals. You could ask if the apartment manager has taken a CAM course or has other qualifications needed to care for the property and keep the tenants safe.
As you tour the community, take note of the upkeep and general condition. Are the hallways, parking lots, and public spaces neat and orderly, or are they dated and dirty? Are the buildings and landscaping tidy, or have they seen better days?
You’ll also want to find out about amenities that are included with your rent. Is there a community gym, pool, or rec room available for tenants’ use? Luxury communities may even offer perks like co-working spaces or private dog parks.
4. What’s the Parking Situation?
If you have a car, this is an important consideration. That highrise apartment might be perfect, but if there’s no parking garage, you might spend hours circling the block looking for a parking space.
If parking is provided, is it included in the rental price? Or is there an additional cost? How many parking spaces are available per unit (for example, if you and your roommates own multiple vehicles)?
5. What’s the Community Pet Policy?
Some landlords are happy to welcome renters with pets, while others have a strict “no pets allowed” policy. If you plan to bring your pet with you, make sure to clarify that its breed and size are allowed in the complex.
It’s common for landlords to ask for a pet deposit or charge a small monthly “pet rent” fee. It’s up to you to determine if the extra costs fit into your budget or not.
6. Who Handles Building Maintenance and Repair Work?
One advantage of renting over owning a home is you’re rarely responsible for repairs or maintenance. Theoretically, you can submit a maintenance request if an appliance breaks or the AC isn’t working as well as it should.
Some landlords are great about responding to requests right away. Others may drag their feet if something comes up outside of normal business hours.
Consider the general appearance and upkeep of the property during the tour. This will give you a good idea of whether your landlord is proactive and about maintenance or not.
7. What About Subletting or Early Termination?
Sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us to move out of an apartment earlier than planned. If you’re unable to finish out the terms of the lease, what options will be available to you?
Is subletting allowed? If so, does the new renter have to pass the same application process that you did? If subletting isn’t allowed, what fees are involved in breaking the lease early (and how will it affect your credit)?
8. What Are the Income and Credit Requirements?
If you think you’ve found “the one,” you need to know if you’ll meet the requirements to move in.
Laws vary by city and state, but most landlords will want to see proof that your income is at least three times more than the monthly rental price. And you won’t need perfect credit, but your score should be at least 650 (preferably higher) if you hope to be approved.
What if you love the apartment but you know you won’t meet the landlord’s requirements? Ask about bringing in a co-signer or lease guarantor to help you secure the rental.
Know These Questions to Ask When Moving Into an Apartment
Some of these questions to ask when moving into an apartment might be obvious. Others might have been new ideas you hadn’t considered before.
As you scout out new apartments in your locale, bookmark this list of questions to take with you. If you’re satisfied with all the answers, you’ve just found a new place to call home!
Now that you know the best tips for moving into an apartment, what’s next? Our site is full of terrific tips and advice, so stay right here and continue browsing!