Apartments come and go, but as a new renter, what should you know? Location is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to seeking a great deal than meets the eye when viewing a new rental property ad. With these seven apartment hunting tips you can save money, time, future frustration and yourself from signing a lemon lease.
Location! Location! Location! Visit your target property at least twice before committing to renting. Balance the pros and cons. Here’s what to look for: kids hanging out, police cars on the scene, fighting, beer bottles, or any red flag sign of trouble. Most rental managers prepare apartments before viewing. Do not lock yourself to a lease of other people’s problems.
Amenities and schools. Perks may attract you, but are they worth it? Free WiFi, maybe. Free clubhouse membership, maybe. Figure out what they would cost if you didn’t have these perks tossed in. Important tip for parents: investigate the new local school before signing. Meet, greet and delete any rental property that is located in an area where the local school has more issues than “The New York Times”.
Locks, blocks, and mail details. Dead bolts anyone? View an area crime report and registered sex offender listing. It all comes back to keeping out anyone you do not want inside of your newly rented apartment. Make sure all doors and windows have sufficient locks and not stick jams only. Also, ask the postal service if there has been any issues with stolen or tampered mail.
Free utilities! Free utilities can be a saving grace once a month if paid for by the property owner-we’re talking at least a couple hundred-but weigh out the option first. Sometimes a rental property owner can up the rent sky high due to this perk when really you could be paying less for utilities if they were not included in the rent.
Prefer city or well water? Ask the property manager which one they use. The water may have had issues with chemicals, repeated cycle of broken pipes, or leaks. Contact the city for some of these answers if using city water or ask the property manager.
Maintenance. Maintenance usually comes with a lease. Not always! Ask if maintenance is included, such as a septic that needs to be snaked, fixing a malfunctioned sink disposal, fixing a broken window, pest control, replacing fire alarm batteries (make sure they work too), or anything related to the apartment outside of the items you moved in. It is wise to check for any reoccurring leaks as well.
Year rental property was built. Older homes sometimes suffer the fate of remodeling just because of lead dangers. Ask (or research online) what year the rental property was built. If the apartment is old (even if it’s been repainted and nothing more) do not even consider moving in. Health should be more important! Imagine the money you’ll save on medical costs alone.
Neighbors and privacy. Do you see someone looking into the windows of your target apartment when you drive by? Red flag warning! Consider any complaints against those who live next to or around the rental property you’re interested in.
Hidden financial costs and/or pet deposit. Hidden costs create much loss. Don’t be fooled! Ask for any hidden fees and costs that are not present on the basic apartment rental information or agreement. Most apartments require a pet deposit if moving in with a pet. Some apartments do not allow pets. Make sure you know exactly where the apartment stands when it comes to pets before signing that lease if you want Fido to live with you.