Signing a lease and committing to renting an apartment is no small task, so it’s important to know the right questions to ask. No single landlord or leasing company is the same, which makes coming prepared essential. If you know the right questions to ask and what to look for, you can move forward with confidence. Below are the most important questions to ask on an apartment tour.
What are the lease terms?
It’s important to know when the lease begins and ends. Some apartments offer short-term leases, while others will require a 12-month minimum.
What is the monthly rent?
Knowing the monthly rent for the apartment can help you understand if it fits in your budget. Find out what the policy is for late rent payments and if there is a grace period. Make sure to also ask about your security deposit, and if you will need the first and last month’s rent.
What utilities are included?
Utility coverage between apartments ranges from completely covered to not covered at all. Ask the landlord what utilities you will be responsible to set up and pay. Make sure to also ask what the average monthly cost of each utility would be based on previous tenants’ experiences. If your apartment is barely in your budget and requires you to cover most of the utilities, you may want to keep that in mind.
What is the pet policy?
If you have a pet or plan to get one, you should ask about the pet policy. If the apartment does allow pets, they may have restrictions or additional fees. Many places allow pets, but require a pet deposit and a monthly pet fee. You may also be required to cover extra cleaning charges upon moveout.
Is renters insurance required?
As you budget, make sure to include renters insurance in your costs. This insurance will cover your property in case of events like fires, floods, or theft. Many apartments require proof of insurance in order to rent, so it’s best to start looking into affordable options.
How are rent payments accepted?
For larger apartment complexes, rent payments are typically accepted through online payments. Smaller landlords may require you to write a check. If so, make sure there is a grace period for rent to be sent through the mail.
Is there a penalty for breaking the lease?
While it’s not ideal to break a lease, sometimes things happen. If you anticipate a big life change, you can avoid this by finding somewhere with a short-term lease. Many landlords will require multiple months’ rent if the lease is broken early, and some may even require the payment of all remaining months.
How are repairs handled?
Make sure to ask about repairs and maintenance while touring an apartment. Get an understanding of who to contact and how long you should expect to wait before having an issue fixed. Is it a 24/7 maintenance team, or do they only work during specific hours? Does the maintenance person live on-site or are they hired? Making sure the landlord is responsive to issues is very important before signing a lease.
What is the rental increase policy?
Many apartments will send you a letter outlining potential rent increases should you choose to renew your lease. While some apartments will only raise rent slightly, you may run into an issue of a place significantly raising the rent. If you got a great deal on your apartment, see if you can sign a longer lease to lock in the rate, or get a clause put in regarding a rental increase limit.
What is the parking situation?
Not all apartments have free off-street parking, so it’s important to ask. Some may have street parking, which may require you to apply for a permit with the county. Others may require you to pay an additional fee to park on-site.
What amenities does this apartment have?
Do you have an in-unit washer and dryer, and if not, is there one elsewhere on the property that is available for use? If it’s an apartment complex, does it have a fitness center, package acceptance, or security features? These are all important questions to ask on an apartment tour.
Make sure to save these questions so you can circle back to them when you are on your apartment tour. Knowing the right questions to ask can save you from signing a binding lease for an apartment that does not fit your needs.
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