Looking for a new apartment can be an incredibly fun task—you can sift through beautiful listings, explore potential neighborhoods, and start planning your apartment decor and design.
But of course, signing a lease is a big commitment, and you’re bound to have a few questions before you sign on the dotted line. Plus, there are so many factors to consider, including upfront costs, move-in policies, renters insurance, and amenity access.
If you’re searching for the perfect apartment but don’t know exactly how to navigate the process, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of questions to keep in mind as potential tenants when securing your dream apartment.
Questions to Ask on Your Apartment Hunt
While the nuances of your apartment hunt will greatly depend on the market where you live, it’s important to come into any apartment showing or lease signing with a few foundational questions to make sure you understand what’s required of you as a tenant.
To that end, here are nine questions to ask when apartment hunting.
1. How much does rent cost?
All prospective tenants should ask this first. Before you sign onto your lease, it’s crucial that you understand the costs associated with the apartment. Knowing your budget and the monthly expenses you’ll need to pay can help you better prepare a budget and feel confident signing that long-term or short-term lease.
You’ll also want to be notified of any policies that may increase your rent, such as late payment fees, noise disturbances, or upcoming property updates.
2. What’s included in the rent?
Some apartments are all-inclusive, while others only provide you with the bare minimum. When deciding on your new home, consider the extra expenses you may need to pay in addition to rent. When determining cost, consider whether or not you’ll be paying for:
- Garbage removal
As a tenant, understand that you may be responsible for certain amenities. Most often, apartment complexes will cover water and waste, leaving the heating and electricity up to you, the tenant. However, every complex is different, so you might end up paying some utilities at a flat rate (which is common when units share a meter).
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive apartment that’s a bit more dressed up, some communities include amenities like WiFi, onsite laundry, fitness centers, and cleaning services. However, if your budget allows, you may be able to rent a modest apartment and still have enough money to purchase that gym membership, too.
3. Is rental insurance required?
In the event that your possessions are damaged—be it from fire, flood, or theft—renters insurance provides coverage to protect your belongings if they are damaged beyond repair.
Some management companies require you to have renters’ insurance before signing the lease, so it’s important to be prepared before you reach for the pen.
However, regardless of whether or not your landlord requires insurance, it’s always a good idea to invest in coverage. Most renters’ insurance costs around $15-30 a month and is well worth the financial safety net they provide.1</sup<
4. How much money do I need to put down to move in?
When you head to your lease signing, you’ll want to put together a checklist of things you’ll need before you can seal the deal.
For example, most apartments require you to put down a security deposit—and the price of this deposit can vary. On average, landlords will want the first and last month’s rent as a deposit, but some landlords may require more or less depending on the location.
If you’re planning on having a cat or dog in your home, some apartments will require a pet deposit to safeguard against any damages your critter might create. However, some apartments may offer special discounts on deposits or eliminate them altogether if they’re looking to fill the apartment quickly.
5. When is the move-in date, and is it flexible?
Once you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, it’s time to move into your new apartment. However, depending on your circumstances, you may realize you need to change your move-in date to accommodate your previous lease or to fit your schedule.
Each property handles move-ins differently. Some apartment complexes may offer to prorate your rent if you can’t move in as soon as you expected, which means you’ll only need to pay for the number of days you’re physically in your apartment. However, other landlords are more strict and will require you to start paying on the date designated on your lease.
It is possible to negotiate payments and move-in dates, as well. If you’re hoping to change your plans, consider these questions to ask about apartments you’re interested in:2
- Are there any busy moving days? If so, can I move in early or later?
- Are there moving fees? Elevator fees?
- What area of the parking lot can I use to move in?
- Do I need a permit to park the moving van or my car?
6. What’s the overnight guest policy?
If you enjoy entertaining—or are expecting guests to spend a week on your couch—you’ll want to ask about the guest policy. Leases will usually mention a guest policy, but some properties can have stricter rules than others.3
To that end, make sure you check the lease or communicate with your landlord prior to inviting guests over to stay.
7. How long is the lease term?
Depending on your needs, you may need to look for a specific lease term. If you’re only looking for a short-term stay, consider looking for a spot that offers a six-month lease or one that can be renewed month-by-month.
However, if you’re moving for a job or just looking for a more permanent home, many apartments offer 12, 16, and even 24-month leases. You can also negotiate lease terms with your landlord to ensure you’ll have a long-term stay, and avoid any rent increases that may arise.
8. Is there a property manager? What’s the process for requesting fixes?
If there’s a broken light or if your faucet is leaking, you should know who you can contact to get the problem fixed. Clarify with the management company how maintenance requests are handled, and what requests the property manager would like you to handle yourself.
When discussing the maintenance of your unit, try asking these questions to better understand your maintenance process:2
- Is there maintenance available 24/7?
- What is the average response time for repairs?
- Is the property manager in charge of the maintenance process, or will I have to contact an independent maintenance company directly?
While you’re asking about repairs, you should also ask if employees need to give prior notice before entering your home and if those employees have proper background checks. Clarifying this can help you know what to expect and ensure your safety.
9. How do I pay the rent? Can I do it online?
When the first of the month comes around, you’re going to need to get your rent payments to the proper channels. Most communities accept a few forms of payment, like checks, auto-drafts, or electronic transfers
Ask questions to help make sure you understand the late fee policy. Some apartments charge a late fee after three days, while others will accrue a fee for each day the rent payment is late. Knowing how—and when—to submit your payment can help you save money month by month.
Reimagine your living with apartments by Common
When you’re looking for an apartment, the proper questions can help save you from a potential renting disaster. Avoid the inconsistent and unreliable quality of apartment hunting with beautiful apartments for rent by Common.
Common offers a variety of home options, with consistent quality and extra amenities that you won’t often find elsewhere. Our attainable coliving and apartment spaces mean you’ll be able to explore new cities and meet new people—with an online app, a built-in community, and even discounts to local and national brands. . Check out our housing options to see how Common can help you find your next apartment today!
- Apartment List. 20 Questions To Ask When Renting An Apartment. https://www.apartmentlist.com/renter-life/questions-to-ask-when-renting-an-apartment
- Apartment Guide. 21 Questions to Ask When Touring an Apartment. https://www.apartmentguide.com/blog/questions-to-ask-when-touring-an-apartment/
- Apartments.com. 12 Questions to Ask Before Renting an Apartment. https://www.apartments.com/blog/12-questions-to-ask-a-property-manager-before-signing-a-lease