It could be the excitement, or overwhelming nature of apartment hunting, but have you ever thought of all the little questions you forget to ask? Touring an apartment with a landlord or property manager can be overwhelming. They’ll give you their “elevator talk” about the apartment, telling you about all of the great amenities and attributes and you get caught up in the moment and forget some important things that need to be discussed before you sign a lease. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, we actually encourage as many as you can think of…after all, neither party want there to be any confusion about the property, the apartment or the services you should expect while you live there!
There is no such thing as a silly question, in fact, here are some of the most popular ones you should ensure you asked before signing a lease:
- How do I pay rent?
Rent is due on the 1st day of the month. The landlord/property manager might have a specific way they would like for you to make these payments. Acceptable forms of rent would include money order, cashier’s check, personal check or through an online portal with a credit card or checking account. There could be a late rent policy. Ask about this to make sure. Late rent policies might include a date in which the rent will be considered “late” and there could be a fee that would be added on with your late rent.
- What is a Security Deposit?
A Security Deposit is money that landlord/property manager will receive from the renter before they move in. You can think of this as insurance for the property from unknown tenants. The deposit is used for any costs of repairs that need to be done from damages, cleaning costs and rent or fees that were unpaid. Security Deposits are refundable; however, any costs that are owed by the tenant at move-out will be deducted from this. States vary in timing to return these funds to tenants. You will need to check the local laws for state specific information.
- Are utilities included?
Apartment utilities can be a difficult to estimate, as it depends on where the apartments are located, age of the property, and even the providers. Apartments can have “included utilities” which could have been stated along with the rent. The affordability of the apartment can be determined by if you are lucky and have all the utilities included, just a few or none. When searching for providers you can always ask the landlord if they have preferences in companies or a simple click and search on the internet.
- Should I get Renter’s Insurance?
Never assume nothing could ever happen to you. A safe approach when you are renting is it’s better to safe than sorry. There is a lot of ‘ifs’ when talking about insurance but do you really want to tempt fate. Put you mind at rest and have your belongings insured. There are different cost of coverage plans from $10-40 a month. You can check with insurance companies in the area for quote and specific coverages.
- How to respond to repairs and maintenance?
Apartment living has the perk for maintenance coverage. The apartment maintenance will cover major repairs and “emergency maintenance”. Properties might have a “24-hour Maintenance Line” so that a major repair can be handled ASAP. An emergency repair could be considered uninhabitable or something that you can’t live without. Emergency situations include stopped toilet or sink, leaking or flooded apartments, non-operating appliances and electrical failure.
- Should I park it or walk it?
Depending on the location of the apartment building you may or not need car. When you talk with the property manager, ask and if the location is a walkable spot or if there is transportation close by. If you do have a car, the apartment building might have designated areas for resident parking. Property parking can range from first come, first serve, assigned parking, garage or no parking. The idea of a garage might be great but ask if that included with your rent or if that is an additional fee added.
- Can I have a guest stay with me?
Having a visitor for a night or even a couple days might be fine. There could be policies on guests visiting for more than a week. You should check to with your lease or property manager for the details. They might require a written permission prior to the visit.
- Can I have a pet?
Apartments can be pet friendly and choosing the perfect home can be tricky. When on the look out for pet friendly places, keep an eye for accessible dog parks, outside green space, and large windows for those sun-bathing cats. Most rentals require a pet deposit along with a monthly pet rent. They can go as far as having breed restrictions, amount limits, and size limits for the pets. Always check the requirements before you get a pet. You want your pet to be comfortable with their new home, too.
A good way not to get overwhelmed, or forget those little questions, is by writing them down or saving them as a note when you visit an apartment. This way you can go back later to see them. Questions can be your friend during your apartment search, and they will help you get a good impression of what’s going on around the property. When the property manager is speaking see how they respond. You can tell when someone has a passion for their property and ensure that it will be a great fit for what you are looking for!