Factors to Consider When Viewing a Rental Unit

There are several factors you will need to consider before signing a lease for your new apartment.

It becomes difficult to negotiate matters once the lease has been signed, so you will need to keep these tips in mind while you are still in the viewing stages. It is important to ensure the quality of the rental unit you are viewing and to determine how repairs will be made should they become necessary.

Having an honest conversation with a potential landlord about significant matters in advance will save you from experiencing trouble once you are a tenant. Most property managers will cover the topics below without prompting, as they know what the typical questions are. However, if they do not address these issues at all or in enough detail, you should know to ask more.

Protecting yourself as a tenant is necessary, and following these tips will allow you to make the best decision when finding the right apartment for you. Keep in mind the unit you will be shown on the tour is most likely a model and kept in the best possible condition. Thus, the condition you will find your actual unit in may drastically vary. Read on to learn about some of the common factors you should consider when viewing an apartment for the first time.

How to Acquire Necessary Financial Information

When you are viewing a rental unit, you will need to consider each financial aspect of living at this particular property. Make sure to consider the following:

  • How much will you spend per month to live there? Factor in the cost of rent, as well as the cost of utilities. Some apartments may cover the cost of certain utilities, but this is relatively rare and not guaranteed. You can speak with the landlord when viewing a property to see if the price of utilities is included in the total price for the apartment.
  • Which amenities are included in the monthly rent? Services such as gym access, a swimming pool and trash removal may be offered at the apartment complex you are hoping to live in. Speak with the landlord or property owner about potential amenities in advance to see if the services offered are worth paying for in the long term. If you do not intend to use the amenities provided, you may want to avoid paying a higher rent fee to live in a complex.
  • Discuss late fees with your prospective landlord to determine what the penalty will be if you are late paying your rent one month. Many landlords and property owners will ask you to pay your rent online, and there can be a processing fee attached to this transaction. You may also find an apartment where the landlord will only accept a written check for your rent payment. By learning when the late fee will be applied, you can determine what day you should write your check or make your online payment to ensure it is processed before the deadline.

How to Discuss Common Policies

Other factors to consider when viewing a rental unit are the common policies in place regarding guests, subletting and breaking your lease. While you may feel as though you do not need to know this prior to signing a lease, having this information before you make your final decision could prove useful. If you are considering the prospect of living in an apartment complex or community, you should speak with the property manager about the guest policy. Many complexes will outline a guest policy within the lease itself, but gaining access to this information before you are presented with a lease can help you avoid the wrong apartment before you invest more time in a particular apartment complex:

  • What is the guest policy? There are certain apartment communities where you will not be able to have a guest stay with you for an extended period. There are other communities that may require you to notify someone in advance if you intend to have a guest stay with you for longer than two weeks. If you plan to have family or friends staying with you frequently, this could determine whether you want to pursue one rental option over another.
  • What are the policies for subletting and breaking a lease? It is important to discuss subletting and lease-breaking policies with your potential landlord in advance even if you do not anticipate the need to utilize either option. Regardless of how well you have your life planned out, unexpected issues can come up during the length of the lease. You may receive a job offer too good to pass up, or you may need to move closer to home following a family emergency. By finding out what your options are before you move in, you will be able to set an emergency plan into motion more easily should anything occur.

How to Determine Who Will Handle Repairs

While you are viewing a rental unit, you may want to discuss the potential for repairs with your landlord in case a situation occurs during the duration of your lease. For example, if a pipe bursts in your bathroom and causes extensive damage, you will need to know in advance if you are expected to handle the matter on your own and be reimbursed by the landlord.

Your landlord may decide to take full responsibility for repairs, whether they occur in an emergency or otherwise. Some larger apartment complexes have a 24-hour maintenance person on call. Others do not. It can be a difficult situation if you have a broken pipe flooding your apartment and have no one to call. You may encounter a landlord who will only make emergency repairs or will only choose to make non-essential repairs depending on the cost.

Your landlord might cover the cost of repainting your apartment and choose to not cover the cost of a burst pipe and vice versa. Determining who will handle the repairs before you sign a lease can help you to avoid an argument with your landlord if the need for repairs arises during your time at your selected location. All of this should be spelled out in your lease and the accompanying handbook for new renters.

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