Looking to rent an apartment?
Apartment hunting can be a stressful process, but here are some pro tips to ensure you get the right apartment – without hidden surprises.
Before you begin
Before you fire up the computer and grab the latest rental publications to begin apartment hunting in your chosen area, there are some things you should address:
What do you need in an apartment?
There is a difference between what you need in an apartment and what you want. Sometimes these differences can significantly affect the rental price. Here are some suggested questions you should ask yourself before you begin your search.
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Do you need a room for storage while looking for a home?
Whatever the situation, be honest with yourself about the amount of space you need.
Check out public transportation.
Will you need public transportation to get to work or school? It is not enough to know there is a bus stop nearby. Before you lease, take the bus or metro route you will be using if you move. How long is the ride? How congested is the bus or train? Is there a lot of construction in the area? This will help you determine if the route is acceptable and timely.
So you have found the apartment that you think will suit you. It is now time to talk to the agent. Here are a few tips:
Slow it down.
- Most agents/ salespersons earn commission upon the signing of a lease. The goal is usually get you to take the most expensive apartment. Make sure to see all available units.
- A promotion may be presented to you such as “first month rent free” or a cash back offer. Read the lease carefully before signing. That first month free may only take effect after you have rented for six months with no issues; then the amount may be subtracted from your current amount due or even refunded at the end of the lease. And what constitutes “an issue” can be tricky. For example, among other things, your promotion may be void if you are given a written warning and/or fined because a neighbor complained about noise or if one of your guests parked in the wrong parking spot.
- Do not sign anything without sleeping on it. You may be told that someone else is looking at the apartment you want. If that is true, so be it. Taking the time to weigh your options is the smartest move you can make.
- Thoroughly read all paperwork (including Rules & Regulations and/or Disclosure pamphlets). Make sure anything you were promised is included on the lease, which should also be signed by the agent and/or landlord.
See the actual apartment.
- You may be shown a beautiful model apartment, but is it a true representation of the actual apartment you will be living in? Ask to see it. How well the apartment is cared for will give you an idea of how the complex’s tenants are treated.
Do your homework.
- Ask around for recommendations. If you are considering a specific apartment complex, ask your co-workers or classmates if they know anything about it – and the surrounding neighborhood.
In the end, if you use these tips and maintain control of the situation, you will find the apartment that is right for you.
Happy apartment hunting!
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Sam Radbil, Guest Contributor
Sam Radbil is the lead writer for ABODO Apartments, an online real estate and apartments marketplace with available apartments from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to luxury New York City rentals. Their research and writing has been featured nationally in Curbed, Forbes, Realtor.com, HousingWire and more.