Finding a new apartment can be exciting, but there’s no doubt about it: the process is exhausting. As one address and complex blurs into the next, it could be easy to forget to ask certain questions. In this anxious mindstate, it can be easy to forget to ask your agent, landlord, or property manager some key questions about important processes at a new building or complex.
It’s unlikely that you’ll forget to confirm the amount you’ll pay in rent, what utilities your landlord will cover, and when your lease will start and end. It’s more likely that you might overlook the minor questions that can mean the difference between being the perfect tenant and breaking the terms of your lease agreement. Here are six questions people forget to ask when apartment hunting.
1. What’s your guest policy?
Although it’s unlikely that a landlord or property manager will completely bar guests from your home, they may have limits on how many nights your guests can stay. Since any person in a landlord’s property can potentially sue the landlord for injury or other liability, some homeowners can be very strict about this. They also don’t want someone living in your apartment unofficially without being on the lease — an undeclared tenant can create even more difficulty for a landlord. Be sure to check before signing your lease, especially if you like to host friends or family from out of town.
2. Do you require renters insurance?
It’s generally a smart (and shockingly affordable) move to invest in renters’ insurance. Nevertheless, not every tenant will want to add another monthly bill to their budget, so it’s best to ask your agent or landlord whether you’ll be absolutely required to purchase a renters insurance policy.
3. How do I pay rent?
In 2019, digital payment technologies have become so omnipresent that your landlord might accept PayPal or Venmo for your monthly rent. Property management companies might have custom online portals through which you can pay them directly from your checking account. Some landlords still require checks by mail, which can be annoying for tenants who don’t want to stay stocked on stamps or envelopes or make trips to the post office. Some landlords who require checks are happy to visit your home to pick them up and check in on your apartment. Knowing what your landlord accepts can help you plan properly to ensure rent is sent and received on time each month.
4. How often do you raise rent, and by how much?
Not all landlords raise rents when you re-sign your lease for another year. Some will hold the rent because they want to retain good tenants, while others are required by law to not raise the rent. Make sure to ask whether you should expect a rent raise if you choose to re-sign, and by how much your landlord intends to raise your rent. Be sure that your landlord is staying within legal limits on rent raises.
5. Are there upcoming renovation or maintenance plans?
Even if you find an apartment that’s in pristine condition, it can be worthwhile to ask your landlord about any upcoming renovation or maintenance plans. You might want to know in advance if your landlord plans to replace a bunch of bathroom or kitchen fixtures, so you can plan in advance around having some parts of your apartment function only partially. You can also ask your landlord if they plan to renovate or upgrade any parts of the apartment that you notice are flawed. If you ask kindly and keep the pressure on without crossing any lines, you may be able to secure home improvements that might not happen otherwise.
6. Where do I put the garbage and recycling?
Every complex or building handles the trash, cardboard, cans, and bottles differently. Some jurisdictions may have single-stream recycling, while others require certain separations. Some buildings have trash rooms, while others have chutes, and others still may want you to carry the trash to a nearby dumpster. Asking these questions before moving in can save a lot of headaches — and a potential fine or ticket — once you move in.