Questions to Ask Before Signing an Apartment Lease

Finding an apartment that fits your budget, is in a favorable area and has all desired amenities can be a challenge, to say the least. When something finally fits your criteria, it’s easy to impulsively sign a lease without asking pertinent questions. Apartment complexes can be just that- complex. There is a lot going on that doesn’t immediately meet the eye. Before moving, it’s important to dig a little deeper, before you’re stuck in a miserable, extended lease.

When meeting with a landlord, remember to ask:

  • Can I see the exact unit?- For obvious reasons, prospective renters are often shown model units. If it’s at all possible, ask to see the unit you’ll be renting. Wear and tear varies in different units.
  • Are utilities included?- If they aren’t, ask what other renters pay, on average. You need to add this number to your monthly budget.
  • Is there parking?- If so, is it free? Do you have a reserved spot? What about guest parking? If there is no on-site parking, ask how difficult it is to find a parking spot. You don’t want to arrive home after a day of work, only to drive around in circles for 30 minutes.
  • Are there washers and dryers in the units?- If not, find out if there are laundry facilities in the building and how much they cost. If there aren’t any laundry facilities, find out the location of the nearest laundromat. Driving across town to do a load of laundry will get old quickly.
  • Are pets allowed?- Even if you don’t have a pet, finding out the building’s pet policies can be telling. If you do have a pet, find out if there are any extra fees.
  • How big is the hot water heater?- This is the one thing I always forget. Then, I promptly remember when I go to take my first bath after a tiring move, and the water turns cold as I’m sitting in an inch of lukewarm water. You don’t want to deal with cold showers every morning due to small, shared water heaters.
  • How is cell phone service?- People assume that phone service covers most urban and suburban areas. However, We’ve been in apartments in the middle of Los Angeles that lacked cell phone coverage. Once stepped outside of the building’s main doors, boom, service again.
  • Is decorating allowed?- Find out if you can paint the walls, hang pictures, etc. If you don’t care about personalizing your living space, this isn’t such a big deal.
  • Is the building noisy?- Technically, apartment complexes can’t give away too much on the demographics of the building, and asking about noise can be looked at as asking about age. However, if the landlord isn’t giving you a straight answer, ask about street noise, etc. Then, take careful note of the noise level in the building during your visit.
  • What is there to do in the neighborhood?- Find out where the nearest grocery store is located. Ask about shopping, restaurants, schools and highway access. If you’re familiar with the area, you can obviously skip this question.