After you have learned the apartment hunting terminology, started your search and finally found an apartment you like, there are a lot of questions you must still ask. Can I afford this apartment? Is this apartment in a convenient location? Will I be happy living here? Besides these vital questions, there are many other items you need to ask and check about the apartment, the building/complex and the general location to make sure you’ll end up in an apartment that is the right one for you. Use this 52 item apartment search checklist as your guide.
1. Request to see the exact apartment you will be renting, not a showcase apartment.
2. How much is rent?
3. What methods of payment does the landlord accept? May you pay with check, credit card, app, or cash?
4. What is included in the rent? Is water, garbage, parking, electric included?
5. Is rent prorated if I move in in the middle of a month?
6. What discounts are currently offered? Are there discounts for longer leases?
7. Is an application fee and deposit required? Are they refundable?
8. What are the options and consequences if you must break your lease early?
9. Is there a grace period to pay rent? Or a late fee? How much is it?
10. If you’ll have a roommate, what happens with the lease if your roommate moves out early. Can you simply change the names on the lease if you get a new roommate?
11. What happens if you pay rent on time but your roommate pays late? Will this affect you in any way? Will you both be penalized or just the person who pays late?
12. Which appliances (stove, oven, refrigerator,etc.) are included?
13. Are washer/dryers allowed?
14. How much is the average monthly utility bill?
15. Is the apartment well-insulated? (This can affect the cost of heating and cooling the apartment.)
16. Which internet, cable, and utility providers service the apartment.
17. Check your cell reception in all rooms of the apartment.
18. Test all electrical outlets with a socket tester.
19. Check the water pressure on hot and cold, and check to see how long it takes the water to get warm.
20. Flush the toilets to make sure they flush properly.
21. Open cabinets and drawers to inspect for pest problems and mold.
22. Take note of any odd smells in the apartment and/or complex, which could mean there is water damage and/or mold.
The building or apartment complex:
23. Does the landlord or agent live on-site? How experienced is he/she?
24. Is there a doorman? If part-time, during what hours?
25. Is there an on-site super?
26. How do I contact the landlord if I have a problem?
27. Who handles maintenance? Is it the landlord, someone employed full-time, or an outside company?
28. How are work orders submitted and filled, and what is the average wait time?
29. Is the cost to fix typical problems like a clogged kitchen sink, pest issues, or a fogged window included in the lease/cost of rent?
30. Is there security on-site?
31. If there is a gated entrance, make sure the gate closes after a car passes through. Also, make sure the landlord doesn’t keep the gate unattended and open.
32. Is a parking spot is provided. If so, does it cost extra?
33. Where do I park if all of the parking spots are taken?
34. How do visitors gain building access? Where do they park? Must they have a parking pass?
35. Are you limited to how many visitors you may have at one time?
36. Is there a laundry facility on-site? If not, where is the closest laundry facility?
37. Is a pest treatment service included in the lease?
38. Where is trash disposed? How often is trash picked up?
39. Walk through the complex in the morning, afternoon, and night, and on a weekday and weekend to see who is in the area and what activities are going on.
40. How long do most tenants stay in the building? If there is a frequent tenant turn-around, there may be issues with the complex and/or landlord.
41. What is the average age of current tenants? Are current tenants mostly older, or are there many college students? Do the current tenants have children?
42. If there are common areas (gym, pool, lounge, etc.), ask how often current tenants use these areas.
43. If you want to have a party, may you reserve a lounge area for the party? How much will it cost?
44. What are the rules for food deliveries?
45. If you expect a package that must be signed for, can someone at the front desk or at the door sign for you?
46. Is renter’s insurance required?
47. How much do replacement keys cost? What is the charge if I get locked out of my apartment?
48. What is the cost to have a pet in the apartment? Are there pet size restrictions?
49. See what stores, restaurants, parks, etc. are within walking distance.
50. Drive from the apartment to your most visited locations (school, work, grocery store, etc.) to check the distance, traffic, and time it takes to drive. Do this at different times (during rush hour, on a weekend afternoon, on a Friday afternoon, etc.) to check varying results.
51. Try to talk with a current tenant about crime and noise in the area. Check crime statistics online.
52. Check other apartments in the area to see if the apartment you like best is priced evenly or closely to neighboring apartments.
Finally, be sure you understand every term on the lease. If you’re unfamiliar with a term or condition, ask the landlord what it means.
Also check this handy downloadable checklist you can use to compare different apartments.