10 Things to Do Before you Sign the Lease and Move In

Real Estate Agent Showing Couple New ApartmentPlanning to move into an apartment soon? Here are 10 things to do before you sign your lease and move in. These tips will help guide you to an apartment suited to your specific needs, and will also help ensure you are protected when you move out or incur damages.

  1. Note what direction your bedroom window faces. If you like morning sun, you’ll want a window that faces east. If you don’t like morning sun, you’ll want a window that faces west. Figure out if sunlight will affect you and choose an apartment wisely.
  2. Check your cell signal before you choose an apartment. If there is only one spot in the entire apartment that gets a cell signal, you may need to choose a different apartment. Or else you may be left hanging your head from the window to take a call.
  3. Drive by the apartment before you move in. Drive by in the morning, afternoon, and night to see what’s happening in the area. You may drive by one afternoon and find the area quiet with few people around. If you drive by late at night, however, the area may be loud and packed with people.
  4. Check out the parking, especially if you only have street parking. During working hours, there are probably many parking spots available, but at night, you may have to park several blocks from your building.
  5. See if a park, pool, or other common area is nearby. If you don’t mind the noise, this won’t matter too much, but if you want a quiet apartment, make sure you choose one that doesn’t face a common area.
  6. Read your lease. There are several important things in your lease you need to know, some of which include: if you have to register your vehicle with your landlord/apartment managing company, when you must notify your landlord before you renew or non-renew you lease, if you have to reserve certain common areas. Read every word of your lease before you sign it so you will know every rule and guideline.
  7. Talk to someone who already lives there. If you can do this, you can get a better perspective of the apartment and area. Ask about things like crime in the area, noise, parking, bug problems, and how quickly maintenance responds. These could potentially be problems you don’t want to encounter that a landlord might not divulge.
  8. Take pictures before you move in. In case you get into a problem getting your security deposit back, make sure you take pictures of everything before you move into your apartment. Walls, windows, floors, doors, everything. Also, make sure the photos are time stamped, or mail the photos to yourself and keep the envelope unopened so you have a postmark. Having time stamped or post marked photos can prove if a hole in the wall or crack in a window was there before you moved in.
  9. Have your landlord or a representative from the apartment’s managing company sign off on any damages. Create a detailed list of everything damaged in the apartment (worn carpet, peeling paint, water damage, condition of appliances, stains, burns, etc.). Having this signed by your landlord or apartment representative proves you didn’t cause the damage and saves you from not getting your security deposit when you move out.
  10. Obtain renter’s insurance. You never know if the apartment above yours will flood and cause damage to your apartment, or if your entire apartment building will go up in flames. Renter’s insurance is usually inexpensive and easy to obtain, so definitely purchase coverage.

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Kalee Cowan is a graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Rural Studies: Writing and Communication. She is a writer, a baker, and a customer service representative for an insurance agency in her South Georgia hometown. When she is not working, she is attending concerts, reading an always growing list of books, and spending time with her family. You can find her on Instagram and Pinterest.

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