Apartment Hunting: Questions to Ask
As apartment dwellers for the past (almost) six years, we know that finding your next apartment can be a stressful process. We wanted to share some of the questions we ask leasing agents or property managers when we are trying to find our next apartment.
What is the rent?
What are acceptable ways to pay rent?
What does rent include? What amenities are not included in the rent charge?
What internet companies are available? What is the average cost of basic internet with these companies?
What is the parking situation? Do you charge for parking?
What is the average cost for water, electric, and utility bills?
Are pets allowed? What is the pet deposit and/or pet rent fee? Are there breed restrictions?
Things to consider
What is the typical term of a lease?
Who is your average tenant? (College students? Grad students? Military families? Families? Retired folks?)
Is public transportation available in the area? If so, where is the nearest bus stop, train station, etc.?
How would you describe the average noise level around the apartment at day/night?
How do you handle maintenance or emergency repairs?
Are there plans to make updates to the apartment/complex in the foreseen future? Is the surrounding area expecting any construction projects?
What is your visitor policy? (Where do they park? Is there a limit on the number of days you can host a guest?)
To what extent can renters alter the property? (nails in the wall, paint, etc.)
If you’re happy
When is the apartment available? Could the lease begin on (date)?
What amount to you require to hold an apartment once a lease is signed?
In addition to asking these questions, here are a few other tips:
1) Check Reviews and Get Recommendations
Make sure you look at online reviews of the apartment complex, and ask your friends or colleagues for apartment suggestions. Our favorite apartment was a recommendation from a friend who was also living there, and we had a great relationship with our property manager.
2) Low rent doesn’t mean It'S the cheapest option
When we were looking for our second apartment there was an option that had a lower rent cost, but once we added the average cost for electricity, water, and pet rent, it was more expensive than the apartment with higher rent (that had lower utility costs.) Our current apartment’s rent includes internet, which is a huge perk, given we lived in Comcast dominated areas for the first four years we lived together and our internet cost started at $80/month.
3) Compromises to lower costs
We currently live in Bloomington, home of Indiana University. The rent here is inflated, the landlords are notoriously terrible, and because there is a guarantee of 40,000+ students who need housing, lease terms are rigid. (For example, it’s difficult to find a lease for less than twelve months.) If you can’t find an apartment within your price range, consider looking at smaller apartments, sharing the space with a roommate, or expanding your search to a less inflated area. We considered moving to Indianapolis or one of the smaller surrounding cities next year, but decided against it because we share a car and he has to be on campus four days a week for work next year. But you might have more flexibility.
I hope these tips help you in your quest for a new home!