- Real Estate
Renting a Residence- a Checklist
Deciding Where to Live
Deciding where to live is important.
Determining factors before you even look. You really need to take the time to decide on where you want to live. Helpful friends and family members may send you enticing offers of renting homes, apartments or condos, but if they are not in the area that you are looking at, the information is a waste of time and useless.
- Do you want to be near your work, school, family or friends?
- What does your budget allow?
- Can you afford the area that you want to live in comfortably?
- To live there, will you have to make financial sacrifices?
Once you have done the above, decide on the area, print out a map of the area and mark off the area that you want to live in with a highlighter. This will help you to find the location easier when comparing ads, maps, and tips from others at the drop of a hat. Different apartment services use different maps, so if you have a map of your own to contrast and compare with, it will save you time effort later.
Figure Out Your Budget Completely for Your New Apartment
We all want to live in the nicest possible place that we can afford. Knowing what we can actually afford can be tricky to figure out.
- You will need to ask what features are included in your rental fee. Some places pay certain bills, such as water and trash pickup. Others offer no amenity assistance, and instead you may get a reduced or commercial rate. Some places will pay all bills, and we will get into that in a moment.
- Ask what the average renter is paying for utilities in the summer and winter months for the same size apartment. Add 50 percent to that amount as apartment agents will often give the lowest possible amount.
- Ask about any other expenses, such as additional storage facilities, parking places, extra parking, or gate access keys.
- Call utilities and determine how much of a deposit you will have to pay, how long it will take the service to get in place and what the procedure is for ending the service.
Narrow Your Choices, Save Your Aggravation
You should begin to narrow your choices before you even set foot on the property.
- If you want or already have a pet, any place that does not allow pets is not a good fit for you.
- Ask about their overnight guest policy. Some apartments do not allow overnight guests. Others do, but they limit the amount of times that a guest can stay overnight. My sister used to live 2 blocks from me, and she would stay overnight a lot because we both worked odd hours. This became a problem when the manager pointed out that I could only have overnight guests for three nights A YEAR. I did not renew my lease, but if I had known ahead of time, I never would have signed.
- Do you keep odd hours? Ask about the noise levels in the apartments. Some apartment grounds like to keep a quiet community, while others thrive on pool parties, get together events, and other social actions. Find out what kind of property it is before you go see them.
- What facilities does the property offer that are important to you?
- Are there washer and dryer hookups?
- Is there a laundry facility? If there is, what hours is it open?
- Is there a place to workout?
- Security should be a concern. What does the property do to ensure the safety of the residents? How many crimes have happened on the property in the past? Managers know these facts. They don't like to give them out, but do press them and find out.
- What types of crimes happen in the area? Look online, and you should be able to get a good idea of what is going on in the neighborhood.
Make notes as you call around. Certain apartments will start looking good, and others will stand out as sore thumbs.
Visit the Property Without Management With You to Really See the Property
Before you make an appointment to see the property, drive by the apartment at different times. Checklist 4:
- During the day, is it quiet?
- Are there a lot of people working, or a lot of people at home?
- Are there a lot of children playing?
- Are people enjoying the amenities of the property?
- Is the trash picked up at the door?
- Are the dumpsters overflowing?
- Are there stray animals roaming about?
All of these are indicators of how the management and the residents feel about the place. A real eye opener for me was when I drove by a property on a Sunday and I saw children throwing rocks at a dumpster. When I stopped and asked what they were doing, they cursed at me. I did not rent from there.
While you are driving around the property, note your cell phone signal. Do you have a good signal? If you do, wonderful. If not, it will only get weaker indoors. If your cell phone use is important to you, this may be something to consider.
If you are still happy to see the property, call and set up an appointment. When you look at the property, here are some questions that you will want to ask:
- How often is the apartment building,each unit and the grounds treated for pests?
- How often are the air filters changed?
- Is the maintenance personnel on site, or do you have to wait for someone to be dispatched?
- Is management on site?
- How long between when you file a work order for a repair and when it gets completed?
- What happens if the heat or air conditioning fail? What about in the evening? On a holiday? During a weekend?
- How is rent payment made?
- Is trash door to door or self carry to the dumpster?
- What are the rules for amenity use, and how do my guests enjoy the amenities?
- What is the security for the apartments?
- How often are cars broken into?
- Can I be present when the locks are changed to ensure that they are changed?
- If there is not a peep hole, can one be installed, and can it be at a lower height if I am a female or shorter person?
Again, Please, Check your cell phone signal in the apartment, in all rooms. One place I looked at, I could only get a full signal in the bathroom! The other rooms had no signal at all.
Turn on the water. Is the water pressure good? Is the water normal colored? Check all of the faucets. If you are looking at a model apartment, ask to see the actual apartment that you will be renting. Don't sign before you see the actual apartment.
Flush the commode. Does it flush well? Does the bathtub look in good condition? How about the water pressure of the shower and the bathtub? How long does it take hot water to get to the tap?
Are the floors clean? Needing repair? Dirty? Either ask for a rent discount if they are in poor condition, or demand that they be cleaned or replaced before you move in.
Signing the Lease
I know that it may seem like the perfect place, but sign the shortest term lease the first time that you sign. Why? If it is not paradise, you will only live there a short amount of time before you are able to move. If it is, there will be other renters' specials at the time of your signing.
If anything was verbally promised to you by a rental agent, make sure that it is in writing. Ask to see what you were promised. Take time and read the lease. It may be frustrating to the rental agent, but you want to make sure to read a legally binding contract all the way through before you sign your name, legally binding you to the agreement.
I was once promised once a month carpet cleaning by an apartment. When I pointed out that it was not on the lease, I asked. I was told that it was a verbal agreement. Many other items were also explained to me to be "verbal agreements". I said that they needed to become written or I was walking. The agent said that they could not do that. I walked. My friend who leased there broke her lease after living there only 2 months. Verbal promises are lies unless they are in writing.
Get a copy of the lease right then. Make sure that you have all of the keys, mail key, apartment keys and any other things you should have before you leave the office.
Inspecting the Residence
Move In Checklist:
- When you go into the apartment to inspect it, look first at the ceilings. Is there any discoloration, cracks, marks, spots or anything else that is not original and looks like damage? Mark it down.
- Now go to the walls. Note nail holes, chipped paint, cracks, stains, dirt, anything that again looks like damage.
- The floor gets the same treatment as do bookshelves, cabinets, and everything else in the apartment.
- If you are very smart, you will take photos and videos of every room, noting the complete date of day, month and year as you go.
- Record doors that stick, knobs that don't turn, and everything that is not in perfect condition. Believe me, they will be going over the apartment after you are gone just as carefully, so it is best to do it now.
- Check appliances to see if they work. I always write on the appliances "Pending first use". If it does not work, I file a work request, if it does work, I do nothing.
- Turn on the heat or air conditioning. Ask for a filter replacement.
- Sign, date, and return the form after making a copy for yourself.
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