Questions to ask before renting an apartment

What to Know Before Renting an Apartment

Important questions to ask when renting an apartment

If you have recently graduated and are ready to start a new job and get your own place, now is a great time to be looking at apartments. The same can be said if you want to buy a house or have sold your home and are waiting to move into a new one. Currently, it’s a seller’s market in the housing industry and mortgage rates are predicted to increase, so if home ownership is your goal, it might be best to wait it out.  An apartment offers many amenities that you won’t find in a house, like a swimming pool or fully equipped fitness center. And if you’re new to the area, apartment living is a great way to meet people and get acclimated to your new community.

One of the benefits of living in an apartment is that you aren’t locked into a long-term mortgage. Most leases renew annually and some property management companies offer month-to-month leases. You will be required to put down a security deposit, which will vary by property, and it should be returned to you when you moved out, provided that the apartment didn’t incur any major damage while you were living there. There may also be a pet deposit and if you are just starting out, you may need to pay deposits in order to establish utilities in your name.

Here are seven important questions to ask when renting an apartment:

  1. How much is the security deposit? Most apartment deposits amount to one month’s rent and you may also be asked to pay an application fee. Make sure you understand that upfront and be sure to get clarification on how you get your deposit returned when you move out.
  2. Is there a pet deposit? Many apartments now require pet deposits and some also charge a small monthly rental fee for the pet. The deposit and monthly rent are usually based on the weight of the animal, and most communities have restrictions on how many pets a resident can own. Some cities and apartment communities also have breed restrictions, so be sure that your pet is on the approved list.
  3. What are the terms of the lease? You want to be very clear on this one because it is expensive to break a lease. Are you bound to one year or can you go month-to-month? How much notice are you required to give if you intend to move out?
  4. What utilities are covered in the rent? In some communities, your rent also includes water and trash removal. Be certain to check as you don’t want to be surprised by unexpected utility bills. As an incentive, some properties offer free internet/cable services like Google Fiber. If that is the case, make sure to find out how and when the rates increase, how soon you will be notified, and if you have the option to decline this service.
  5. How are maintenance requests handled? This is important to know in advance so you will not have unrealistic expectations. Find out if there is a dedicated maintenance staff for your property and when they are available. Also, ask if there is after-hours emergency maintenance and what constitutes an “emergency.” Do residents submit maintenance requests online or do they need to call their property manager? Some properties allow residents to perform simple DIY repairs themselves and deduct the cost of any supplies from their rent.
  6. Do residents have dedicated parking spaces? This can be a huge headache for apartment residents — where to park. Are there reserved parking spots or is it a free-for-all? Some complexes charge more for reserved parking spots or carports. In addition, find out where guests are supposed to park. Guests parking in residents’ “usual” spots can get ugly quickly.
  7. What is security like? Every property is different. Some have locked outside security doors, while others have passcodes or gates at the entrance to the complex. High-rise apartments might have a concierge or on-site security guards. Check all of the windows and doors to make sure they close and lock properly. In addition, check for working smoke/CO monitors in the unit and for fire extinguishers in the hallways.

These are some tips to get you started on your apartment search. Your main goal in finding a new place to live is that it is safe, comfortable and fits your lifestyle. By gathering basic information upfront, you will understand your obligations as a resident and the responsibilities of the property management company, so your apartment life will be harmonious and stress-free.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your furry friend. Our facilities are top-notch and based on some of our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in and around our Central Ohio communities

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

Learn where to find good roommates on the Vision Communities blog.

Tips for Finding Reliable Roommates

How to find a great roommate

Whether you need help in sharing living expenses or just enjoy companionship, finding the right roommate(s) can be tough. Gone are the days when you had instant roommates that blossomed into lifetime friendships from living in campus housing at school or roomed with a group of friends from high school. Even though things are getting a little better with the pandemic and economy, it’s important that you choose reliable, compatible roommates, especially if the relationship is for the long haul. You don’t want somebody who is looking for a place to hang out temporarily until their situation improves and leaves you hanging with unpaid rent or even worse, isn’t taking covid precautions seriously.

So, how to you find reliable roommates?

  1. Make a list. Before you start asking around, make a list of what you are seeking in a roommate. This could include financial stability, smoking, lifestyle (e.g., are they are a night owl, while you turn in at 10 p.m.), pets, food preferences, etc. This doesn’t mean that if you’re a meat and potatoes person that you can’t live with a vegan or vice versa, especially if food shopping and meal prep are done separately. You need to assess what’s important, then prioritize it. If you are a classical music fan but can tolerate EDM, then don’t sweat the small stuff. And last but certainly not least, ask them about their reaction to covid. Have they been vaccinated? Do they plan to get vaccinated? Have they had covid? Do they work in a high-risk job?
  2. Ask family and friends. Word-of-mouth is the best recommendation. Ask around and see if your family and friends know anybody who is looking for a roommate. Maybe they know a person who just left a live-in relationship or is new in town. People you trust and who know you can attest to the person’s character, stability, etc.
  3. Ask at work or school. If you are finishing up school, there are resources for matching roommates. You just need to check out the student resources online or on campus, if you are able to attend any classes in person. You can also ask coworkers. The only downside is if the roommate situation doesn’t work out, it could create an awkward situation with your coworker. 
  4. Social media. If you have a close-knit group of friends on your social media platforms, then ask them. You never know who is a friend of a friend … One advantage to using social media is that it creates a bit of distance. You can subtly gather information, and if it doesn’t sound like a good fit, you can back out before making any type of connection or commitment. Many communities have area specific pages, so if you are feeling adventurous, put some feelers out and see who responds.
  5. Online clearinghouses. There are many websites to match roommates, like Roomster. You just sign up and fill out questionnaires and pay a fee. Similar to a dating app, your specs will be matched against other candidates to see who would be compatible with you. 

 

Your home is where you want to feel, safe, secure, and comfortable. Having the right roommate(s) can make your apartment a peaceful relaxing environment and the wrong ones can create an uncomfortable living arrangement. By identifying qualities you seek in a roommate, doing your homework and asking the right screening questions, hopefully, you will find great people to share your apartment and forge lifelong friendships.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your new roommate. Our facilities are top-notch and based on our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in our Central Ohio communities, that you have an outlet when you and your roomate need some space. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

tips for working from your apartment

Apartment Living + Social Distancing

Depending on where you live, you’re probably into your third or fourth week of social distancing due to COVID-19.  Cabin fever has long since set in, especially if you work from home. Compounding the situation is sharing space with family or roommates within the confines of your apartment, which seems to grow smaller and smaller each day. So, how do you protect your health — and your sanity — during these trying times?

  1. Communicate. Talk to your apartment-mates about expectations during the pandemic. For example, set some ground rules about work space, online meetings & quiet spaces. Come to an agreement on visitors during the quarantine, and most importantly, agree on safety protocols for any housemate that needs to leave the apartment. The best way to stay on the same page is to communicate with one another and get ahead of any living space challenges.
  2. General cleaning. During the stay-at-home order, it’s essential to keep your apartment as clean and disinfected as possible. Wipe down the door handles and light switches every day (more with frequent use). Kitchen counters and the sink should be cleaned daily, as well as the easily-overlooked areas like the refrigerator and freezer doors and the microwave. Each roommate should clean up the bathroom after every use — sink, faucets, bathtub and shower. Also make sure that the floor, toilet bowl, toilet seat and handle are frequently cleaned. Lastly, minimizing clutter will also go a long way towards helping everybody feel calmer and less hemmed in.
  3. Grocery shopping. If everybody usually does their own thing, now might be the time to consolidate. Each resident can make a list of what they need and combine them into one shopping trip. This is a good opportunity to purchase larger quantities of commonly-used staples and you can save some money by doing so.  Designate one (or two) roommates to do the shopping or have your groceries delivered. Yes, it costs more, but most supermarkets reduce the delivery fee based on the dollar amount purchased. It’s easy to order online, pay and tip (generously, please!) the shopper.
  4. Escape. If you work at home or just need some space, you probably spend a lot of time in your bedroom. That can get old. If your apartment has a balcony or patio, steal some quiet time outdoors. Just getting away and breathing some fresh air can do wonders for the psyche. If your apartment community has green space, go for a walk, just make sure to maintain social distance from other walkers. If you have a dog, take it for a nice long walk. A change of scenery, even if just for an hour or so, can help put some distance between you and your roommates.

Apartment Common Areas

  1. Elevators. If you live on an upper floor, try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you must use the elevator, try to time your trips to when fewer people will be riding. Wear a mask and gloves for pressing the buttons.
  2. GYM Facility.  Many apartment communities offer gym and workout facilities. If you are keeping up with your workout routine, thoroughly wipe down any equipment before and after you use it. 
  3. Mailbox. You have to get your mail to pay your bills, so use common sense and appropriate caution when going to a common mail area. Wipe down your mailbox before and after opening it and when you get your mail to your apartment, avoid placing it on kitchen counters. 

Vision Communities is committed to taking care of our apartment communities with COVID-19 in mind. We have increased our efforts to keep common areas clean and sanitized to keep COVID-19 risks low for our residents. We encourage our residents to follow CDC and Ohio Department of Health guidelines to practice social distancing and reduce human to human contact as much as possible.

At Vision Communities, we pride ourselves in the communities that we build. We’ll take care of the maintenance of the facilities and your apartment, but the cleaning and assembly are up to you! With apartment communities near ClintonvilleDowntown Columbus, and Westerville, Vision Communities has the floor plan and amenities that you are looking for. To learn more, browse our Central Ohio communities and find the right floor plan for you and your family.