Moving is a huge endeavor that involves countless tasks, and first among them is finding a new place. When you’re renting an apartment, you might have slightly less responsibility than someone who’s buying property, but there are still plenty of questions you need to ask even before signing your lease.
Some of these questions might seem obvious, while others you’d only think of if you’ve rented an apartment before. You need a lot of information in order to make the right decision about where to live, and many times, you won’t know if you don’t ask.
Here are nine questions to ask when renting an apartment.
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1. What’s Included in the Rent?
Does the amount you pay your landlord for rent cover any of your utilities? Oftentimes, landlords will pay for some of the tenants’ utilities, such as their water, sewer or trash expenses. Usually, the tenant will be responsible for paying their electric, gas and internet/cable bills. This differs from landlord to landlord, though, so be sure to specify with your property manager which utilities you’re responsible for paying. They will likely also have recommendations for utility providers in the area that are the most reliable and affordable.
Be sure to ask about laundry facilities, as well — if you must use a coin-operated laundry area, remember to account for that as additional expenses on top of your rent.
2. Will the Rent Ever Go Up?
Ask your property manager or landlord how often they plan on raising the cost of rent for your unit. Unless you’re in a rent-controlled apartment, it’s possible that the rate will increase slightly each year when you renew your lease. Make sure you read the lease in its entirety and clarify how much you can expect your rent to increase annually, if at all.
Of course, your landlord may not know their financial plans yet. If this is the case, try to find out if they’ve regularly upped the rate in the past. This will help you plan ahead for a potential renewal in the year to come.
3. How and When Do I Pay Rent?
There are many methods landlords can use to determine how and when they will collect your rent. Some landlords are still old-fashioned and require their tenants to mail them a rent check or turn it in to an office in person. Meanwhile, others may have converted to an online payment system. Find out how you should be paying your rent, as well as when it’s due.
You should also ask about late fees for rent, which can be as much as 10% of the cost of your rent after as little as three days.
4. What Are the Terms of the Lease?
Your lease should include the specifics of any rules and regulations within the apartment building, but be sure to ask your landlord to explain any unexpected or unique terms you can expect to see. Some specific regulations to ask about include:
- Your security deposit
- Noise regulations
- Guest policies
- Lease renewal process
If there’s something that rubs you the wrong way, you may not want to wait until the lease is in front of you to find out. These are great questions to ask during your apartment visit.
5. Do You Require Renters Insurance?
While landlords do not have to require renters insurance, many of them choose to do so due to the significant benefits it offers both the tenant and the landlord. Renters insurance will cover a tenant’s personal and property damages in the event of an unexpected incident — such as a burglary or fire. This way, you’re not responsible for replacing all of your lost property. Meanwhile, the landlord does not risk being sued or held financially responsible after an accident occurs.
It’s often recommended to purchase renters insurance even if it’s not required. A few dollars a month is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of replacing your possessions and dealing with another potential move.
6. How Do You Handle Repairs?
One of the most significant perks of renting is that you’re not responsible for any repairs that must be made to the unit. If your sink is leaking or your air conditioning isn’t operating correctly, your landlord is responsible for calling someone to come and fix it. Confirm with your landlord or property manager that this is the method they follow for repairs and ask them how quickly you should expect basic repairs to be made.
7. What Changes Can I Make to the Unit?
Some landlords may be picky about the changes you can make to your apartment. Before you make any semi-permanent changes like painting or putting holes in the walls to hang up paintings and other decorations, check with them about what you can do to the unit without being charged for it when you move out.
8. Is Parking Available?
Is parking available on-site or off-site? Is it in a lot or on the street? Will you have to pay an extra fee for it with your rent? What about guest parking? Depending on where you live, parking arrangements could be a significant factor in your decision.
9. What’s the Pet Policy?
If you have a dog or cat, an apartment’s policy on pets will probably be a deal-breaker for you. Even if your building allows pets, be sure to read all the fine print regarding your four-legged friends. You’ll usually have to pay some sort of pet deposit, and possibly an extra fee with your rent every month as well.
Also, some apartment complexes have weight and breed restrictions for dogs. If you’re a dog or cat parent, make sure to ask about this policy up-front before you fall in love with an apartment you can’t have!
Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment
If you feel like you have a ton of questions to ask when renting an apartment, it’s because you should! Don’t feel like you’re being annoying or needy by asking your landlord tons of questions before signing your lease. Not only are they obligated to be transparent with their tenants, but they’ll most likely appreciate your eagerness to learn the rules and follow them.
There are no stupid questions when you’re about to sign a lease for an apartment, so fire away!