Published: September 08, 2017
You’ve found the perfect apartment to rent. The pictures online look like something out of an interior design magazine. The countertops are granite, and there’s even real wood flooring. Wait a second, though. Don’t sign that lease just yet. Are you sure you really know what you’re getting into? Make sure that apartment is truly a place you’ll enjoy living in by following UNITS guide to apartment hunting:
Turn on the shower
If you’ve ever tried to wash long hair under a small trickle of water, you know how important it is to have good water pressure. While you don’t need to bust out a towel and hop in the shower, you can turn on the faucet for a minute to see what kind of water pressure you’ll be dealing with for the next year. While you, your roommate and the landlord are all crammed into the bathroom, ask if you’d be allowed to swap out the showerhead from the basic, no thrills one to one that’s a bit more luxurious.
Try to send a text or get online on your phone
No 21st century, smartphone-owning individual wants to rent an apartment that’s a dead zone for cell service. Try texting a few friends when walking through the apartment, or give your mom a call to see if you can get reception (you’re probably overdue to call your mom anyway). After you’ve checked that, try to get on the internet or check one of your many social media apps. If they won’t load, that’s a good indication that your cell phone service may be less than reliable.
Talk to neighbors before signing the lease
Does the landlord like to pop-in uninvited and “check in”? How much does it really cost to heat or cool the place every month? How long have they been there? Generally, people won’t renew a lease for another year if living there is a nightmare. While you’re at it, ask about the parking situation. The landlord might tell you each apartment has one assigned parking spot, but you’ll have two cars. See what your potential new neighbors say about the ease of finding an open parking spot for their extra vehicles.
Google away and read reviews
Even if everything looks peachy keen in person, there still may be red flags left by past tenants online. Google to name of your apartment community and read through all of the reviews left on multiple sites. Look at both negative and positive reviews to get a feel for what the average renter can expect when living there. One bad experience shouldn’t necessarily offset you from signing a lease somewhere, but a majority of one star reviews probably means you should run.
Call your car insurance
Once you think you’ve found a suitable apartment to rent, there’s still more digging to be done on other ends. Be sure to give your car insurance company a call to find out the rates in the new area. In some cases, you might find out your car insurance will actually go down in price. This is when parking arrangements may come into play with your wallet. Off verses on street parking or having a garage to leave your car in can make surprising differences in your car insurance rate.
Be prepared to prove you’re a responsible adult
Remember, while you’re scoping out a prospective place to live, the landlord is scoping out whether you’re a responsible, reliable tenant. Don’t be surprised if you need to provide proof of employment and income. Also, expect the landlord to run a credit check on you and your roommates before handing over the keys.
Never, ever sign the lease before reading it
Yes, we know you’ve heard it before, but we can’t stress the importance of reading your lease before signing it. Find out how long the lease agreement is for on the document, when the move in and move out dates are, and any rules about living there the landlord didn’t mention. Are any alterations to the walls allowed? Can you sublet the apartment? How long can a guest stay with you? These are all issues that should be addressed in the lease.
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