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Questions to Ask When Looking for Apartments

Updated on October 27, 2017

The rental interview

The interview with a potential landlord should be taken seriously because first impressions have a big impact on people. Most property owners have already decided to rent or not to rent to a potential renter from the first impression. If children are to live in the building with you, this is the first subject you should discuss with the landlord. It is not recommended children go to the first meeting while you meet with the building owner; However, if your kids are present at the interview, make sure they are quiet and polite. When the homeowner sees the children are well-mannered, they may be more willing to rent to a family with kids.

Asking the right questions

One of the biggest mistakes most apartment hunters make is not asking the right questions during a rental interview. The first three topics should be about the monthly rent, the security, and the lease.

Question one, the rent

The first question the apartment hunter should ask the landlord is how much is the monthly rent? Most property owners prefer to receive their monthly rent on the first day of each Month. However if paying the rent on the first causes a hardship discuss the issue with the homeowner. Some rental landlords are willing to change the date rent payments are due, However, be sure the new Agreement is in the lease, and if there is no lease, make sure you get a written note from the landlord agreeing to any date change regarding when rent payment is due by the tenant. It is customary to carry a pad, a pen, and pencil during the interview so you can make a note of any changes agreed on during the visit.

Ask abou late fees

A) Most landlords prefer to receive the rent on the first of the month, however, when the rent is late, they may charge the tenant a late fee. Don’t play guessing games; ask the landowner if they charge a fee when the rent is late, if they do, ask how much is the late fee. Most property owners allow a grace period of three to four days before they consider the rent late, but check with the landlord about their grace period.

The heat, hot water, and lights

B) Thirdly, inquire about the heat, hot water, and the lights. Ask the owner of the rental dwelling if any utilities are included in the monthly rent, or are they separate? Be sure to make a note of the services that are extra because this will be an extra expense you will have to pay monthly.

The water bill

C) Today, most homeowners charge the tenant with a portion of the water bill, if this is the case in your situation; ask how much will your portion of the water bill cost. Also, ask how is your portion of the water bill calculated because some property owners usually divide the cost of the water bill between the numbers of tenants residing at the residence. Using this method to determine your share of the water bill will cause your portion of the bill to fluctuate up or down each month depending on the number of occupied apartments at the time the landowner receives the water Bill.

Free storage space

Most apartment buildings have plenty of storage space available, such as the attic, basement, or garage. I call these areas free space, although most property owners may disagree with me. However, this would be a good time to ask if you can use the attic or basement for storage, hey, if the owner says no, you did not lose anything, but if he said yes, you had gained some free storage space.

Question two, the security

Most people who rent apartments prefer to get a security payment before the tenant moves into the rental unit. The State determines the security amount paid to the property owner by the person renting the property. However, the homeowner can legally hold the security from the first day a tenant moves in until they move out of the rental unit. The state allows the property owner to legally hold onto a renter’s security payment for the following three reasons:

1) The security is a guarantee that the rental owner will receive compensation if the tenant reneges on the lease.
2) The security is also a guarantee of payment in case the tenant evacuates the premises without paying the rent.
3) The security held by the property owner is a guarantee of reimbursement in case the tenant causes damage to the apartment.

Although most homeowners prefer to receive the security payment before a tenant moves into the apartment, however, there are property owners who will allow you to make payments toward the security, so, if you are short on cash, ask the property owner if you can make payments on the security.

Question three, the lease

The lease is the most important topic to discuss with the landlord because the lease is the glue that binds the renter and the property owner into a legal contract between both consenting parties. Whatever was discussed, and agreed on during the rental interview should be written in the lease. The lease, written correctly by the apartment owner, will protect both his and the renter's rights if either party fails to fulfill the obligations written in the lease. Before signing the contract, if you have pets, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss this topic with the rental owner, furthermore, sit down and read the lease to make sure everything agreed on is written in the contract.

Inspecting the apartment

Once the property owner decides to rent you the property, you should schedule a date to inspect the apartment with the landlord present.
If you find any damage in the apartment, it’s wise to take a photo of the damaged item and bring the matter to the owner's attention.
Some people have pets living in the apartment with them, so don’t be afraid to do a sniff test, especially on rugs and carpets. It’s wise to take photos of the apartment before you move in and when you move out of the rental property. When taken photos, make sure they are dated and kept in a safe place until you are ready to move. By taking the appropriate action before you move into the apartment may save your security money when you decide to vacate the building.

© 2017 Rev Dennis L Johnson

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