7 Important Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

According to studies, more people are renting apartments and houses today than they have at any other time within the past 50 years.

Renting can be a scary thought as there is so much to know such as whether or not you can alter the apartment to your liking or if your furry friend can make the move with you.

You may fall in love with an apartment and then find out that it’s way out of your budget or the length of the lease is longer than what you’re looking for.

Below are seven crucial questions to ask when renting an apartment to ensure you’re comfortable with everything that comes along with your new rental.

  1. How Much Am I Expected to Pay Upfront?

Things can vary when it comes to renting an apartment — some rentals may charge additional costs and fees that other rentals may not.

Your typical landlord will require that you pay first and last month’s rent upfront. Sometimes that can be all they ask for, but most of the time they’ll want a bit more than that.

A security deposit is something you should expect to pay upfront. The security deposit is basically insurance for your landlord to hold on to in case you decide to skip out on rent or damage the apartment. If you follow the terms agreed to in your contract and don’t destroy your apartment you can rest assured that you’ll likely get this money refunded back to you.

Another fee to be on the lookout for is an application fee. When moving into an apartment your landlord will typically do a screening on you, such as checking your credit history, to make sure they’re comfortable with renting out their apartment to you. This screening costs them money therefore they may charge you an application fee to compensate.

  1. What Utilities Are Included?

Utilities are important to take note of when moving into a new apartment, and often your landlord will cover some of your utilities and bulk them into the total cost of your rent.

Landlords often cover the basics. Think: garbage pickup and water. As for other utilities, such as cable and internet, electricity, laundry, if on-site, and parking, if on-site, it’s likely that you’ll be responsible for this.

Take a look at the appliances in the apartment too because they can affect the cost of utilities, for example, gas appliances are often cheaper to run than electric.

Some rentals may not even have updated appliances at all, such as lofts. Lofts often have high ceilings and tall windows which can slap a hefty price tag on your utility costs. Check out this loft apartment guide for more information on this.

It’s important to know off the bat what utilities your landlord will cover as you’ll need to budget out how much you’ll be paying each month on top of rent. You can get an estimate of what these costs will average out to by asking your landlord, past tenants, or the utility providers.

  1. How and When Do I Pay Rent?

Most apartment rentals will allow you to pay your rent online, however, this can vary from apartment to apartment. Keep an eye out as there may be a $1-$5 convenience fee for online payments.

Some landlords may require you to pay rent in the form of a handwritten check which is either delivered to the leasing office or mailed to your landlord. In this case, you’ll want to make sure you have a checkbook.

As for when your rent is actually due this can vary from landlord to landlord. Some landlords will make rent due on the first of the month, some on the fifth of the month, and some in the middle of the month.

Never assume what day your rent is due, make sure this is established with your landlord before moving in since some landlords may impose a late fee if you don’t pay on time.

  1. Who Is Responsible for Repairs and Maintenance?

Be sure to ask who is responsible for repairs and maintenance and how it works to put in a repair request.

If your landlord covers repairs and maintenance, make sure you know exactly what appliances and fixtures this refers to. This can often be found in the lease terms.

If your landlord does cover repairs and maintenance find out how long the turnaround time is for repairs. Emergencies can happen at any time, such as a burst pipe at three am on a Sunday, and it’s important to know if maintenance is available 24/7 in cases like this.

  1. What Do I Do When I Want to Move Out?

In many cases, you’ll have to give your landlord 30-60 days’ notice before moving out. If you don’t do this you could possibly lose your security deposit or your lease could automatically renew for another term.

Find out whether or not your landlord requires a final walkthrough when moving out, as this is often when they’ll determine whether or not your security deposit.

  1. Can I Make Changes to the Apartment?

Changes can affect the return of your security deposit, so make sure you figure out with your landlord what you can and can’t do to your apartment.

For example, many landlords won’t allow you to paint, and holes in the walls from hanging stuff up can be your responsibility to fix before you move out.

Some landlords allow you to make whatever changes you want as long as you return everything to how it was before you moved in, so make sure these terms are laid out before you sign your lease.

  1. What Is the Pet Policy?

If you have a pet or plan on getting one make sure you know the pet policy right away as many landlords don’t allow pets.

On the other hand, some landlords will be happy with whatever pet you bring into your apartment. Or your landlord may allow pets but have some restrictions, such as not allowing certain dog breeds in the apartment.

If your pet is allowed most apartments will require either a pet deposit, a one-time pet fee, or an additional charge to your monthly rent.

Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

If you think you’ve found the one when apartment hunting, make sure you have your list of questions to ask when renting an apartment.

Renting an apartment can seem scary, but as long as you get these questions out of the way early then the process is likely to run smoothly.

Happy hunting!