12 Questions to Ask When You’re Checking Out Apartments
Before you sign a lease, ask the landlord or leasing agent these questions. The answers can give you a better picture of the community, the costs, and the terms of the lease. They can also give you a head’s up on potential problems or risks that you should be aware of—and that you may want to avoid.
How Do I Pay Rent?
Most landlords and apartment complexes accept personal checks. Some may also have apps or websites that let you pay rent online. If online payments are accepted, ask if there is any surcharge or convenience fee added.
Also, ask if there is any grace period for rent and, if so, what that is. The grace period is the time frame between the rent due date and the date when late fees will be assessed.
What Are the Late Fees & Will My Rent Ever Go Up?
While renters rarely plan to pay rent late, being aware of the cost of late payments is always smart. Also, if you are planning to stay at an apartment for more than a single lease term, ask about the potential for rent increases. If the rent will be going up every time you renew the lease, you may want to consider other options.
What Utilities Are & Are Not Included?
Ask about water, garbage, internet, electricity, and/or gas. For utilities you’ll need to cover, it’s also a good idea to ask about the average cost of those so you can factor them into your budget.
Where Can I Park & Where Should My Guests Park?
Will you have a designated parking spot? How secure is the parking area? Are there any electric vehicle charging stations? And where can visitors park when they come over?
You’ll want to know about any deal breakers when it comes to parking, like if you’ll have to constantly fight for street parking or if you’ll need to go somewhere else to charge your vehicle.
What Is Your Guest Policy?
Some apartments may limit the number of guests you can have and/or the amount of time guests can stay. Others may require guests to check in or get parking passes.
Knowing the requirements or restrictions for guests can give you an idea of what your visitors may need to do—and what you can expect in terms of your neighbors’ guests.
What Is Your Pet Policy?
Are pets allowed? If so, what types, are there limitations, and is there a pet deposit?
While pet-friendly places usually require a deposit for each pet, some may also:
- Prohibit certain breeds
- Have weight limits for dogs
- Offer special pet amenities, like dog parks, dog walking, and/or pet grooming
If you have a pet or want to get one soon—or if you prefer to not be around animals, you’ll want to know the pet policy.
How Secure Is the Property & Neighborhood?
What are the security features? Is there a security guard? And how safe is the neighborhood?
Safety is always a priority, and, of course, you won’t want to move anywhere you don’t feel safe and secure.
How Are (Emergency) Repairs Handled?
When appliances or fixtures break, you need to know who to contact, how to contact them, and how soon they will respond. Make sure you also ask about how emergency repairs are handled after-hours and on holidays.
When Will Staff Enter My Apartment & What Kind of Notice Will I Get?
Outside of requests for repairs, apartment staff may need to enter a unit for other reasons—like to check smoke alarms, inspect for pests, or do other things.
Upstanding landlords and apartment communities will usually give some kind of notice, like sending an email and/or posting signs 24 or 48 hours beforehand. So, figure out what you can expect in terms of unit entry and notices, and ask if or when your unit could be entered without notice.
What Are the Penalties for Breaking the Lease?
Life can change quickly, and sometimes, that could mean you need to break a lease. So, get an idea of what the penalties would be for terminating the lease early.
How Will My Security Deposit Be Handled or Refunded?
Under what circumstances would your security deposit not be fully refunded? Many places require you to clean before moving out, and generally, upstanding landlords and leasing companies will:
- Overlook normal wear and tear
- Refund deposits in full, as long as the unit is left in the same condition as before you moved in and you clean it after moving out
Will the Building or Community Be Updated?
What you really want to know here is whether:
- You’ll have to deal with the noise and potential hassles of construction at any point while you’re living there.
- The community will get any improvements or new amenities that you’re interested in.
Asking these questions upfront can prevent a lot of headaches and possibly save you money in the future. Do you know what else can help you avoid hassles and put cash back in your pocket when you’re looking for an apartment?
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