If this is your first time renting an apartment or house, you probably aren’t sure what to keep an eye out for. Even if you’ve rented for years, it’s always a good idea to brush up on what to keep an eye out for. Before committing to a lease, you’ll want to double-check these eight details to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
1. The Written Agreement
Your lease is probably going to have a lot of legal copy to it, but it’s still important to read it carefully. If needed, have a lawyer look it over. You want to double-check that everything you verbally agreed to and was promised is part of the lease. Making a verbal commitment or being told something by your landlord doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll end up in the lease, which means your landlord won’t have to legally adhere to it. Don’t sign anything before you know what the agreement says.
When you look at the apartment, make sure the locks work on the windows and doors, especially if you’re going to be living on the first floor. The last thing you want to do is find out that you can’t properly lock up on your very first night in the apartment. Your landlord should fix any broken windows, doors or locks prior to moving in, and maybe even before you sign the lease.
3. Existing Damage
Before signing the lease, take note of any existing damage, and photograph it, too. First, you’ll be able to ask your landlord to fix the damage before you move in. Second, if you don’t opt to have some of the damage fixed, you won’t be held accountable when you eventually move out. If your landlord thinks you caused damage to the apartment, they could keep your deposit instead of returning it upon moving out.
Walking around the apartment during the viewing and seeing that certain appliances are available doesn’t mean that those appliances actually work. Don’t just take note of what’s in the apartment, actually try to use the appliances. Turn on the ceiling fans and lights to make sure they work; turn the oven and stovetop on to ensure it’s usable; and open the fridge to check that it’s cool inside.
What do you want in an apartment? Which of those things are must-haves, and which are niceties? Make a list of your wants and needs before settling on an apartment. You want to check that your new home will have whatever you need to be happy and comfortable, whether that’s an easily-accessible mailbox, an on-premises fitness center, in-unit laundry or a private outdoor space to relax in. Some items you may have to be flexible on, while others you may know you can’t live without.
Don’t assume that utilities, like heat, water, electricity, cable and even parking fees, are included. Ask what’s included and what you have to pay for on your own. Also, if you have the option, it may be more worth it to pay for your own electricity. When landlords include electricity in your rent, it could come out to more than if you paid for it on your own.
7. Community Rules
What are the rules that you have to follow of the complex or neighborhood where you live? You may not be able to have pets, for example. Or, you may have to park on a certain side of the road on specific days of the week. Find out how much freedom you have and what the requirements are, then decide if you can live with them or not.
8. Landlord’s Address
Find out where your landlord lives before signing the lease. You want to strike a balance between too far and too close. If they live far away, they won’t be able to handle issues or emergencies quickly. If they live too close, you could start to feel like they’re breathing down your neck.
Finding a new place to live is super exciting. To make sure the experience stays positive, check out the details before finalizing any plans.