Before You Set Out Looking for an Apartment:
Make a shopping list.
Start looking for an apartment in a neighborhood that will be most ideal for you. Proximity to work, shopping, entertainment, prices are only a few factors that might impact your choice. Are you looking for hardwood floors, dishwasher, washer and dryer? Do you have enough parking space for you and your family members or roommates? You may not find everything, but it doesn’t hurt to set priorities. After all, finding an apartment that is just right for you is an exciting and rewarding process.
Cover the Bases.
Many landlords will want to verify your references. Phone ahead to alert possible references, including your former landlord, that they may receive a call.
During the search:
Try to see the units in the daytime.
You’ll want to know how much natural light an apartment gets. It’s helpful to see what shape the place is in and whether more work is needed to make it habitable.
Do a careful walk-through of any apartment you’re serious about. The best time to ask about repairs and improvements is before you commit. Attach a list of any damages to the lease, and have it initialed by your landlord so you’re not held responsible later. This is especially important in a college town. Who knows who may have lived in the apartment before you! Make sure an apartment has been thoroughly cleaned by a professional cleaning service company and if you would need to do an additional move-in cleaning. See an example of a house cleaning checklist to see what is typically included in apartment cleanings.
Take measurements of your larger furnishings (and take along a tape measure) to see how your things will fit… or what things you’ll need to buy. Be realistic about the move. If you have a king-size waterbed, maybe the fourth floor isn’t the best spot for you.
Meet the neighbors!
Will you live above or below someone; do you share walls? Knock on doors and introduce yourself. Find out if neighbors are friendly, how they feel about noise, what they like about the neighborhood. This is a good person to ask about the safety of a neighborhood. Landlords aren’t allowed to discuss such things, but your neighbor will know if the place has bad lighting or a wild Rottweiler problem.
Visit as many places as you can…
so you’ll have a good idea of what your money buys. Then be prepared to ACT QUICKLY when you find something you like! Lots of complexes are on the internet. While you shouldn’t rely too heavily on the web, it is a good place to get started narrowing to a list of possibilities.
After you’ve found it:
Read your lease thoroughly…
and make sure you understand it.
Don’t be afraid to ask! For example:
- What utilities are you responsible for?
- How is the television reception?
- Will you need cable?
- Is there reference to existing wear or damage or a penalty for breaking the lease?
- How does the management feel about subleases?
No apartment is going to be perfect; how much you enjoy where you live is largely up to you. Meet the people at the complex, and you’ll enjoy your living experience much more than if you stay indoors, all alone. Hang out at the pool. Play some basketball. Throw a party. No matter how you feel about the physical space you occupy, new friends can make you feel right at home.
Apartment Rental Tips & Checklist
- Cost of Rent
- Security deposit amount
- Late payment penalty
- Pet fee
- Individual leases
- Size of apartment
- Penalty for breaking lease
- Private bathrooms
- Utilities included
- Cable included
- High-speed internet/ethernet
- Allowed to paint walls
- Ample power outlets/phone jacks
- Kitchen appliances in good condition
- Vaulted ceilings
- Ceiling fans
- Curtains and blinds
- Fitness center? Office on site
- Tennis courts/basketball/volleyball
- Overall condition of apartment
- Plenty of closet and storage space
- Washer/dryer or laundry facilities
- Proximity to school
- Convenient to transportation
- Stores locations
- Quiet community or active area
- Ample parking
- Convenient visitor parking
- Garbage dumpster proximity
- Maid service
- Smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detector
- Gated entry