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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.