So you’re looking for an apartment.
You’ve been Prepared and Consistent in your search. Now you’re going to visit that place you like. This might be the one! But… how do you know?
You need to ask the right questions.
So here are the 7 questions you must ask to ensure you’re getting the apartment of your dreams:
1. What are the terms?
Understand exactly what you’re paying and what it includes. Most leases will be 12 months but often you can get a deal if you’re willing to sign for longer.
There will also be an income requirement. As a general rule, you need to make at least 40X the monthly rent. If not, you’ll need a guarantor — someone to cover if you can’t pay.
Perhaps most important though, is to know what is required for lease signing. Generally you’ll be asked to pay a security deposit, plus the first month’s rent (or more). This can add up to a lot of cash upfront… so make sure you have it available.
2. How do I pay rent?
Now that you know how much is owed, find out when you owe it and how to pay it. Many landlords still require you to mail a check, while others will let you pay online.
You may actually have to use one of these
Paying rent on time is important for two reasons:
You don’t want to pay late fees. Rent is already expensive.
Your next landlord will ask your current one for a recommendation.
Finally, find out how much your rent can go up at the end of your lease. If you love the place and want to renew, make sure you can still afford it. This should be established in your initial lease.
3. What about other expenses?
This isn’t an all-inclusive deal here. Internet, cable, heat/electric, and other amenities (e.g. a resident lounge, gym, roof deck, parking, etc) will increase your monthly spend. Ask what is and isn’t included, as well as how much it typically costs each month.
4. How are emergencies handled?
Stuff happens. It’s important that you know who to go to when it does. Find out how emergencies and maintenance requests are reported. You don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t have heat in the winter.
A picture of you this winter if your heat isn’t fixed.
5. Do you allow pets?
Realistically this is something you should know before you even visit. Be sure that the building is cool with you bringing your dog, your bird, or your plethora of cats. Don’t make them have to find a place too!
Your dog would probably use Abode
6. Can I host on Airbnb?
Airbnb presents an awesome economic opportunity, especially in big cities. Understand the policy from the beginning so you aren’t fined, or worse, evicted. Some landlords are cool with it. For others, it’s a big no-no.
7. What’s happened here before?
Ask for a quick history lesson. Learn about what’s happened in the apartment before you. Have there been issues with security? Any history of crime or break-ins? What about bugs and rodents? Many won’t proactively disclose things like this, so make sure you ask.
Rule of Thumb:
If you’re not sure about something… ASK!
Committing to live somewhere for 12+ months is a big decision. Do your homework and understand what you’re signing.