Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.
We are often looking for a change, the feeling of progress and refresh in our lives. We invite you to take a moment and contemplate on the whole process that will ensure you the happy and rewardful endgame. We have pointed out below 13 important things that you should ask before renting an apartment, it would be helpful to take these questions step by step and write down the ones relevant to your case.
Keep in mind that these will make the search far more difficult but equally rewardful.
Things That You Should Ask Before Renting An Apartment
- Things That You Should Ask Before Renting An Apartment
- #1 Can I Paint?
- #2 Can I have a pet?
- #3 Policy about guests sleeping over?
- #4 Exit options?
- #5 Quiet hours and other residential agreements?
- #6 Who is responsible if there are two people renting the apartment?
- #7 Parking policies?
- #8 How much will it cost me to move in?
- #9 Do I need a rental agent and how much will that cost me?
- #10 Are there are rules for garbage, recycling and outdoor common spaces likes gardens?
- #11 Who do you call if something goes wrong in the apartment?
- #12 Do I need to have a co-signer if I haven’t established my own credit?
- #13 Can I actually afford this?
#1 Can I Paint?
Most of us would assume that the answer is yes, thinking that it will be your new apartment, your new home and shelter. Sadly this is not the case and most leases do stipulate that after moving out the apartment should be restored in exactly the same condition upon receival. If you`ve painted your walls that extremely graphic pepper mint you will have to restore the wall to their mundane gray color. As you probably know covering color with color is not that easy to do.
There are some landlords that will even ask for written permission before painting or decorating anything; sadly, yes, decorating might be a problem as well. Using wallpaper, piercing the walls with nails to hang your DIY wall art projects might be accepted in some cases but certainly not in all cases. You will also have to reverse these when you move out so measure your efforts.
In some cases these conditions are perfectly normal and justified while in some the conditions of the lease are debatable, whatever is the case we are just renting and we should accept the conditions of the landlord as they are. We highly encourage you to make very detailed walk-through with photos along with your landlord when you decide. In this manner you will know exactly the state of the apartment and how to do the restoring. Pay big attention to carpet stains, wall stains or isolated incidents like damaged handles, pipes etc. All these should be noted down and signaled to the landlord, you might be to blame at the end if you do not. Think about it because the stakes are quite high, any damage will be deducted from the security deposit at the end.
Think about the color of your wall, discuss with your landlord and try to find a neutral enhancing color and maybe you will be excused from repainting at the end if you make things better. This means that purple or pink, just an example, are excluded. Bold colors and wallpapers .
#2 Can I have a pet?
This is a delicate problem and it is definitely not relevant to all individuals. However even for the ones not interested in pets, you should ask this question. Maybe your best friend will ask you to take care of her cat or dog for a few days or it simply happens to drop by with the little one for a few hours. Some landlords allow only fish tanks for example and some might accept a visiting pet but not a stable pet. It all comes down to your landlord`s policies.
Keep in mind that some landlords are refusing pets only for financial reasons. Dogs and cats can easily scratch doors, hardwood floors and most of the pets don’t handle well long hours left alone while their lovely owners are at work. They can bark and disturb tenants or crash things around with ease. You should expect some extra pet security deposits or taxes and trial runs. If the landlords sees an incredible adorable quiet and friendly dog at the first meeting they might accept it with ease.
#3 Policy about guests sleeping over?
You might imagine that the new beginning will mean unrestrained freedom. You will have romantic nights with your significant other or late board game nights with your friends. Take a breath though because you might need to face the ugly truth. The landlord will always want to know how many people will live in the unit. More people living in the apartment will mean more wear and tear on the apartment, more water usage and tighter parking that might disturb tenants. Your new landlord might restrain your more than your parents have ever done so make sure that you know what you’re getting into.
The landlords suspicions are justified though and you should respect these demands. Joshua Dorkin, renowned founder and CEO of BiggerPockets.com — the largest real estate investing community online — stated on the matter:
“When you moved into my property, I ran a thorough background check on you to make sure I was betting on a good tenant. The reason I allowed you to live here is because you had good references from your previous landlords and no criminal history. I don’t know anything about your boyfriend. If you would like him to live there, then let’s follow the same rules I set for you and get him to undergo a background/credit check and I want to speak to his previous landlords.”
If you take a moment and put yourself in the landlord’s position you will understand. No one is looking for problems and no one is judging anyone. It just has to work pain free for both sides and you should both be rather safe than sorry right?!
#4 Exit options?
When you sign a lease you are quite stuck until the lease term is up. Most lease terms are signed for one year unless otherwise negotiated for a shorter or longer period. At a certain point you might find yourself at the half of the one year long lease with a great job opportunity in another city or even continent. You should always ask what penalties you have to endure for breaking the lease before signing it. Always keep in mind that verbal agreements never stand in front of written ones so if you have the manager in front of you assuring that it won`t be a problem to break the your lease with a 30-days written notice ask him nicely to put it in writing.
The breaking of a lease is a serious business that can have really unexpected consequences. It will definitely forfeit your security deposit and money in the landlords hold in your name but more importantly it will burn bridges in future rental references. If the parents have vouched for you and co-signed the lease agreement they might be held liable for the balance of the lease. You probably know how stable is your career and you there is any possibility to relocate with your job so make sure to negotiate the exit clause if that is the case. There are a few landlords that do agree with these terms in the markets in which the apartments are empty for months but make sure that you know your situation before signing .
As a real life example, Ben Leybovich, who invests in multi-family homes as rentals and blogs at JustAskBenWhy.com, says that all his leases contain a “buy out” option that would allow a tenant to cancel their lease if they provide a 30-day written notice of intention to vacate, forfeit their deposit, pay an amount equal to one month’s rent for liquidated damages and in some cases, if necessary, pay a pro-rated amount of turnover costs. He says, a tenant can always ask their new employer to pay these fees as moving expenses and/or ask their landlord for a waiver of terms.
#5 Quiet hours and other residential agreements?
You have to understand that an apartment building is an entire community, it contains a composition of demographics and ages, all trying to co-exist peaceful under a common roof. The social cohesion in apartment buildings is extremely powerful and meaningful and to make everything work you will always face a few rules that you are expected to abide by. Keep in mind that all your neighbors are expected to respect them too and some of them might find your night owl habits quite intrusive. Respect quiet hours and understand that it’s only natural.
Keep in mind the common areas are actually common, for everyone to use. You should ask about the costs associated with the use of common areas before signing a contract. You have to know the cleanup fees for using a multipurpose area for partying, how much is the gym subscription if there`s any and if you can bring from time to time the visiting nephew aged 12 at the swimming pool with the rule “no kids under 14 allowed” displayed.
Dawn Anastasi, owns and manages 12 rental units in Milwaukee, WI., and she suggests tasking for a copy of the house rules before you even sign your rental application.
“And if you feel the rules are too restrictive, move on to the next building before filling your application”
#6 Who is responsible if there are two people renting the apartment?
If you have roommate or more in the apartment you are all joining liable for rent. No landlord will accept half of the rent and with the comment “i`m covered”. It is not the landlord`s problem that your roommate decides to move out early and go live with her boyfriend either. Be reasonable and keep in mind that both/all of you are responsible for what happens with the unit.
#7 Parking policies?
In most cases you will get one parking spot assigned to your rental unit. From time to time though a guest can find itself circling the block with no possibility to park. No one appreciates guests using assigned spots and neither would you so make sure there is an adequate parking for guests if you know that you’re visited quite often. In most ensembles there are guest parking spots occupied by unused extra cars or trucks, you have to ask questions and find out who handles these problems; is there a guard?Is there designated tenant that reports such problems ?
#8 How much will it cost me to move in?
In most cases you find out the monthly rent at first glance or before online. From time to time you can slightly negotiate these or simply accept them as they are. The pricing is always the result of the market and strong competition oblige the landlords to a certain price range so in most cases the rent will be correct. However the move-in fees are another thing entirely; it is safe to say that all landlords are requiring a month`s rent paid up front as a security deposit against damages and the first and last month`s rent paid paid immediately after you sign the lease. That means almost three months worth of rent. Some landlords also require fees for running a cred check and application fee and these can vary from 30 dollars to 100. These are supposedly covering the time spent by the landlord to verify your background and current employment, checking references and so on. Make sure you get approved before paying this fee. If you get approved and sign a lease ask the landlord o]if he can add this fee to the security deposit. In highly competitive markets some landlords will even ask for a fee for taking the unit off the market while your application is being processed, this is in a manner to your advantage if you want to make sure that you get the place.
Utilities should be discussed as well as a decent part of them are not covered in the rent. Ask about gas, electric and cable but also trash removal and common space maintenance costs like WiFi or simple cleaning. You can ask neighbours nicely how pricey are the utilities in the area if you want to make an elaborate plan but make sure you are not disturbing anyone.
#9 Do I need a rental agent and how much will that cost me?
This questions is quite delicate as the rental process varies a great deal from town to town and country to country. In some areas you can pay some feels to obtain lists of available apartments by the criterias demanded and simply go and check them out. These lists are created by pulling data out of all possible channels : public forums, newspapers etc. Keep in mind that most of these have never seen the unit and they cannot help you with more than an address and some basic data. In most areas there are real estate agents and some landlords and renters alike do prefer to work with them. It is easier because they’ve seen the places and they can save you time. You have to know the fees in advance though because some landlords are paying the agents themselves while some are asking the renters do so. There are cases in which half of the fees are payed by the renter and half by the estate agent so don’t despair.
#10 Are there are rules for garbage, recycling and outdoor common spaces likes gardens?
The world is adapting to climate change and some apartment buildings are recycling a big percentage of their trash into special recycling bins. That means that in some cases no old mattresses, old furniture or broken laptops can simply be put in the trash. In some areas no trash can be put until 6 p.m. on the night before collection. Your new apartment might also come with insanely beautiful gardens and potted plants in the common area but along with these responsibility comes too. You might be required to water the plants from time to time or you might be invited to grow your own plants in a small designated area. All these will encourage human cohesion and time spent outdoors so what can go wrong?
#11 Who do you call if something goes wrong in the apartment?
You might know from the beginning who fixes what. The landlord will not change your fuse or replace a water faucet so you have to ask him what is the protocol for getting things fixed. There are building managers but they have no way of knowing that you faucet is leaking so you need to inform them. Ask for a name and a phone number at least and make sure that you call the number only during business hours. In small communities the building manager might be able to help you at a late hour but do not abuse his kindness. Some landlords may also ask you to call them directly to report the problem as soon as possible; if you are solitary person all these procedures might bother you so make sure there are not a surprise when they occur. Keep in mind that most landlords are not allowing you to fix anything on your own.
#12 Do I need to have a co-signer if I haven’t established my own credit?
In most cases,says BiggerPockets’ Dorkin, a landlord will do a credit check as well as background and eviction checks. These are meant to look beyond the application and see the applicant’s financial and personal history. The credit check will look for late or missed payments, as well as any items sent to collection agencies. Be fair- play and accept these terms, is natural and beneficial for both parties.
If a possible tenant has no credit, Dorkin says, it usually isn’t a big deal. But with no credit history, the risk taken by the landlord increases and he might require a higher security deposit or a co-signer on the lease. A co-signer is someone who agrees to pay the rent in the event you don’t –and he must be able to do so, the co-signer will be checked by the landlord as well. In most cases the co-signer are the parents.
#13 Can I actually afford this?
A very tough and particular questions. Most experts advise you not to spend more than 35% of your income after tax-income on house related expenses. On a take home pay of 3,000$ your rent and utilities should be no more than 1050. Many people are passing this border but it is a personal decision. Keep in mind that you have to eat, pay your phone, a car insurance probably and clothes and relaxation activities or hobbies. Be responsible and safe when renting.