Essential Apartment Checklist

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When you’re hunting for an apartment, there are a ton of things to keep track of. Is the closet large enough to fit your massive shoe collection? Does the kitchen look like it can be cleaned easily? Is there space for that little hookah corner you’ve always wanted? Sometimes you spend so much time picturing yourself living in a space that you forget to ask the important questions. So take this apartment checklist with you and get the information you really need!

These are the most important questions you can ask. They will determine whether you can even afford to live in the place you’re looking at.

The Obvious Questions:

  • How much is rent?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • Are any other upfront payments required?
  • How long is the lease?
  • Is it a student lease or a regular lease? (Note: This is only necessary in college towns where student leases are prevalent.)

The Not-So-Obvious Questions:

  • What is the average turnover rate for this building?
  • What are the consequences for late rent? (Note: Be careful about this one. Mentioning this might imply that you anticipate submitting late rent frequently. If you know there is a lot of competition for a place, this may hurt your chances if the landlord is considering multiple applications.)

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Though rent may seem like the primary expense, utilities and maintenance fees can add up quickly. Make sure you know what you’re in for before receiving your first bill in the mail.

The Obvious Questions:

  • Are utilities included in the rent? If not, what utilities am I responsible for?
  • What are the average utility costs for tenants here? (Note: Take this information with a grain of salt. Landlords desperate for a renter might try to make the costs sound cheaper than they actually are. Trust research over words, but it can’t hurt to ask.)
  • How do I handle any maintenance requests I may have?

The Not-So-Obvious Questions:

  • Is there central air or heat? If not, are window air conditioners and/or portable heaters permitted?
  • Are their any energy efficient features?
  • How old are the fixtures? (Note: Old fixtures may need to be repaired more often and may not work as efficiently.)
  • How long does it usually take to respond to maintenance requests?

Living & Community
These are equally important questions, because after all, you will have to worry about living in the apartment. The community you live in can really make or break a place.

The Obvious Questions:

  • Does the apartment come furnished or unfurnished?
  • Are there any appliances included?
  • Is there a washer/dryer in the apartment? If not, is there a laundry room in the building?

The Not-So-Obvious Questions:

  • How would you describe the community here? Do they keep to themselves or are they sociable?
  • Are there any quiet hours I should know about? (Note: If you’re a big partier, then living in a building of retired people that go to sleep at 8pm may not be the best choice for you.)
  • Who can I direct any possible complaints to? Does the property manager live on the premises? (Note: Again, be careful with this one if you think the landlord is considering multiple applications. It may imply that you are a needy tenant.)

By asking these questions, you can start figuring out whether a place is a good option for you as soon as you set foot in the door. You don’t want to thinking about all of these details right before (or even after) you sign a lease.

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