|| Questions to Ask When Renting
Apartment hunting can be tough. If you don’t ask the right questions
and talk to the right people, you may end up signing a lease that
ties you to a miserable existence for a year or more. On the other
hand, the right approach can land you in an apartment you will enjoy
When searching for an apartment, talk to some of the tenants as
well as the landlord or apartment manager. You’ll get honest
answers and a different viewpoint. If most of the residents work
during the day, visit at least once in the evening so you can talk
to several different people and try to meet your potential neighbors.
Some questions to ask (and who to ask) include:
1. Ask the manager what is and isn’t included in the rent.
If utilities aren’t included, ask about average utilities.
This can be tricky – a manager should be able to show you
representative bills (with names blacked out) from previous months.
If he or she can’t, but sure to ask some tenants about their
utility bills and for details about their usage, i.e. do they use
their AC, etc.
2. What are the noise rules in the building? Is there a noise problem?
Do the apartments have soundproof walls? Again, you’ll want
to ask not only the manager about this, but residents, as well.
The manager may tell you there isn’t a problem, but tenants
may tell you it is noisy on weekends or sometimes at night. The
only exception would be if the building has soundproof drywall,
a feature that is becoming more and more popular. The apartment
manager will probably mention if the building it is soundproofed.
Soundproofing enhances privacy - a huge selling point.
3. Ask the manager about crime rates in the area and the location
of the nearest police station and firehouse. He or she should be
able to provide the contact information for each of these.
4. What is the policy on pets? If pets are allowed, what types
and how many? If the prior tenants had pets, ask the landlord to
have the apartment professionally cleaned to eliminate any pet dander
before moving in. If you will be bringing pets, ask about any leash
rules or other guidelines.
5. Ask about the apartment building’s dispute resolution
policy. If you have a complaint about a neighbor (loud noises, they
block your parking space, etc.), how will the manager handle the
situation and are you okay with that?
6. Ask the manager how you may alter the apartment. Will you be
allowed to paint or hang pictures on the walls? If you have a long-term
lease, can you complete major renovations such as knocking out a
wall, updating the kitchen, or installing soundproof walls? In some
cases (particularly in higher end condominiums or lease-to-own situations)
permanent improvements are allowed with prior written approval from
7. Ask neighbors what the general mood of the apartment building
is like. Are neighbors friendly with each other or do they keep
to themselves? If you are hoping to socialize, tenants that have
community parties and keep an eye on each other are a good fit.
If you want maximum privacy, however, you don’t want neighbors
who drop by all the time. Find a community that suits your lifestyle.
If possible, ask the manager for permission to spend an hour or two
in the apartment you are considering on a Friday or Saturday evening.
This is a good way to get an idea of the apartment’s privacy
level, noise level, and overall appeal. Bring a cup of coffee, your
MP3 player, and a good book, and spend time in each of the rooms.
Open and close windows, listen for outside noise, and try the faucets
and light fixtures. Take a stroll through the building and surrounding
area to get a feel for the atmosphere and vibe. By the time you’ve
asked all the questions and had a “test-run,” you should
know if the apartment is right for you.
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