9 Basic Questions to Ask Before You Rent an Apartment in 2023

It’s important to understand what you are getting into before you rent an apartment. It can be confusing, so use ApartmentLove’s handy question guide for your next apartment hunt!

By knowing the right things to ask when you are first shown the apartment, you can save yourself time as the answers to these questions may be the tipping point between living there or looking elsewhere.

1. How Much is the Rent and What’s Included?

This might seem basic, but it’s still one of the most commonly asked questions, and for good reason. Contracts can be tricky, and you deserve to find an apartment that suits your lifestyle. Prices may be negotiable with your landlord, but a fixed-rate lease is the most common agreement.

Out-of-lease rentals are usually subject to rent hikes after the lease term is up, so if you’re going after a sublet, this is an especially important question to ask.

Some landlords will also include utilities like water, electricity and heating as well as extras such as WIFI or parking. It’s best to ask if it’s included in your rent, can be added for an extra charge, or if it’s your responsibility.

The likelihood is that you will have a budget in mind for how much you can afford, so you need to know exactly how much and how often you are expected to pay.

2. Are There Deposits Required?

Deposits are very common in today’s apartment rental market, and there are different types of deposits, depending on where you are looking for an apartment rental. However, some landlords may make an exception, especially in subletting situations. It’s also important to note that tenants get their deposits back or gets it applied to their last month’s rent.

There are typically three scenarios where a deposit may be required, or three different deposit types. The first is a damages or security deposit, essentially meant to cover any major property damage or if you were to fall short on payments. Second, there’s pet deposits, specifically meant for if your pets cause any property damage. Finally, there’s a key deposit. This covers the cost of getting new locks and keys if you fail to return your key at the end of your rental term for any reason or to cover the cost of new keys if you lose them (especially expensive fobs used in condo buildings).

3. Are There Amenities?

Most apartments are furnished when you go for a viewing, but do not assume that any of the furnishings come with the property - make sure you ask! Things like dishwasher and air conditioning are common appliances or amenities people ask about.

You will also need to know whether the apartment has in-unit laundry or a laundry room, and whether it is on a pay-per-use model. There may also be luxuries in the complex such as a pool, or a gym.

4. What is the Pet Policy?

If you have a furry friend or are thinking about getting one, then you should be aware of whether the apartment allows them and the type of pets it allows. Some apartments will allow pets but require a deposit to be put down, which you can get back if the pet proves not to cause any damages. Registered service animals are allowed as per the ADA, but you may need to provide documentation.

5. Are There Any Income or Credit Requirements?

Some places require you to earn a certain amount and/or to have a good credit score to start renting the property as landlords need to know if they can rely on you to pay your rent on time and in full. Putting down more money up front or having a co-signor can also help if your income or credit isn’t quite up to their requirements.

6. What Are the Terms of the Lease?

You should know how long the lease lasts and if there are any clauses that will result in payment when you break it. You also want to check for any other clauses that may result in additional fees as a result of you subletting your rental. This keeps you informed and prevents your likelihood of running into unexpected fees and charges.

7. What Is the Guest Policy?

Some apartments may have limits on the number of guests you can have over at any given time or the number of consecutive nights a guest can stay over in any given time frame. This is more common with student apartments, or shared rentals, but may be implemented in the one you are considering.

8. How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

If something in the apartment needs to be fixed, you need to know if it will cost you anything or if your landlord will handle it.

In the more likely case that the responsibility of maintenance falls to your landlord, you must be aware of how to contact them, how quickly, and under what terms the work will be done. Set expectations for potential emergency situations and determine what process needs to be followed in those events.

You’ll also want to ask under who’s responsibility some property maintenance tasks will fall, such as putting out the garbage for pick up or snow removal.

9. What Changes Can I Make to My Apartment?

Before you pick up a hammer and start making the place your own, remember that it is a rented space and there are likely limitations to what you can do. It’s more likely that you can give the place a new coat of paint (however, not always), while much less likely that you can start knocking down walls and making other major changes.

Find out what the limits are and be careful to read through the contract carefully for any hidden clauses or loopholes. Some landlords require you to put the space back exactly as it was when you rented it.

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Published: March 08, 2022