Between my friends and myself, we’ve lived in quite a few different apartments. Overall, we’re usually pretty happy with our choices, but it seems like every time we move somewhere new, there’s always at least one thing we didn’t think to check before signing the lease. And of course, we never realize that it’s an issue until it’s too late. Here’s a list of three things I know we won’t forget to look into again.
Check the average age of the tenants.
Why should I care how old my neighbors are? you might be thinking. I get along with everyone! Or maybe you never plan to meet your neighbors, whether they’re nineteen, forty-five, or a hundred and three. Well, regardless of how social you plan to be, the average age of your apartment’s residents clues you in about how noisy the place will be. Is the typical tenant college-aged? If so, prepare to deal with loud, late-night music–My poor friend is currently in the process of moving out of an otherwise decent apartment because she just can’t take the college parties next door anymore. Parents with kids? You’ll get noisy days and early bedtimes (and have you ever heard the sound of children playing tag in the room above you? For your sake, I hope you never do. Seriously, are they children or rhinos up there?). Mostly senior citizens? You may end up being the bothersome one if you have guests over in the evening or like your sound system turned up loud.
Check the size of the water heater.
My apartment has about a 30 gallon electric water tank. “Okay, cool,” I said, knowing nothing about water measurements and how much liquid is in a gallon for practical purposes. Turns out, no, it was not cool. Or rather, it was very cool. Cold, in fact. Because a 30 gallon tank does not provide enough hot water to fill my bathtub more than halfway. I take quick enough showers (ten or fifteen minutes) that this isn’t usually an issue, but man does it stink when I want to take a long hot bath. Also, I better not try to take a hot shower after running the dishwasher. Especially if you’re going to be living with roommates (and potentially fighting over who used up the last of the hot water), make sure you don’t end up somewhere without enough hot water to go around.
Check whether the previous tenant left in good standing.
Now, this may be something that’s a little harder to actually find out about, but it’s something worth looking into. I didn’t find out until after I moved in that the tenant before me seemed to have made a point of mismanaging her finances and letting bills go unpaid. When I called to try to get a Comcast internet connect, it turned out that my address was blacklisted with them because the previous resident hadn’t paid her bills. I had to go into the Comcast branch with a copy of my lease to prove I was the new resident and get the address off their blacklist. Not impossible, but definitely a hassle, and inconvenient. A further nuisance was the constant stream of “Payment Due” and “Final Notice” letters I got for her. Actually an issue: The sheriff who showed up at my door ready to take her to court over her outstanding debts and asking for my identification. So, when you talk to your potential landlord, make it clear that you’re not looking for any personal info about their previous tenant, but you want to avoid the troubles I had.