Are you on the move? Looking at apartments? Use this apartment hunting checklist to ensure you're getting a safe, sound, and great place.
Hunting for a new apartment is exciting. You get to tour some new places and imagine what it would be like to live in each.
It's important to have an apartment hunting checklist to refer to, however. Not all apartments are of equal quality, nor are they equally cared for and maintained.
You can tell a lot about a landlord based on the condition of the apartment they show you. If you walk in and find the previous tenant's trash still on the floor, you're probably not in the right place. Alternatively, if you walk into a place with fresh carpet, new paint, and clean appliances, you may have a winner.
Regardless of if you plan to rent for six months or six years, your next apartment will be your home and you must be happy there. You deserve to find a place worth your time and money. You shouldn't have to settle.
Therefore, look at these ten things to check before signing a lease agreement!
Your Apartment Hunting Checklist
There's some wiggle room in any apartment hunting checklist. However, as we suggested before, don't settle for anything you're uncomfortable with, especially where safety is concerned.
On the other hand, don't get caught up in every little detail. If you do, you may never find a place!
Figure out what's important to you, but don't sweat the small stuff.
1. Quality of Neighborhood/Neighbors
Your neighboorhood and neighbors are important. They're the people and environment you have to put up with for this next chapter of your life.
Being choosy about location and neighbors is especially important if you have children. Not only do you need to worry about their safety, but also about the school district you would be in and any playgrounds or parks nearby.
Picking a beautiful apartment surrounded by horrible neighbors will quickly sour your day to day living experience.
2. Heating and Air Conditioning
If you live anywhere that experiences temperature highs and lows, heating and air conditioning may need to be at the top of your apartment hunting checklist.
First, if you live in a place with freezing winters, you can't afford to have shotty heating. Similarly, hot summers and unreliable air conditioning make for a miserable time.
One of the first things you should ask about is the heating and air conditioning situation.
3. Mold and Mildew
If you can't see it, you will probably be able to smell it. When touring a new place and checking off items on your apartment hunting checklist, pay special attention to the mold and mildew section.
While it may not seem like a big deal, the presence of mold in your home could lead to significant health problems in the immediate and distant future.
If you see or smell mold, bring it up and see what the landlord's response is. If you're seriously interested and they're a good landlord, they will have it professionally eradicated.
4. Clogged Pipes
Next, as you're checking out a new apartment, run water in all the faucets and flush the toilets. It may annoy the landlord, but you need to make sure none of the pipes are clogged.
Getting an apartment without checking this item off your apartment hunting checklist could lead to you pulling out someone else's hair from shower drains. Gross.
If you want the place, the them the drain pipes need to be cleaned before you'll sign anything.
5. Working Appliances
Next, any good apartment hunting checklist includes a full check of all the appliances. Make sure they're all in good working condition before you sign a lease agreement. Many maintenance policies don't include fixing appliances.
While they won't allow you to cook a turkey in the oven, you can turn everything on and make sure the appliance is working.
Dirty, greasy, and smelly appliances are generally a sign that they haven't been maintained or cared for by the previous tenants or the landlord. Bring it up and gauge the landlord's reaction. A poor or indifferent reaction is a red flag.
6. Cleaned and Sanitized
As well as appliance condition, take a look around the place paying special attention to cleanliness.
If you're like the majority of apartment dwellers, you've walked in to check out a place and been appalled at how dirty it was. If a landlord is shamelessly showing you a dirty unit, walk away. It doesn't bode well for their competency or effort as a landlord.
7. Electrical and Fire Safety
Electrical and fire safety should be another top item on your apartment hunting checklist. Every apartment you tour should have a fire extinguisher as well as working electrical outlets.
Bring your phone charger with you and test every outlet in each room. Bring up any dead outlets and find out what the landlord is will do about it.
8. Parking Options
A possible limiting factor while searching for a new apartment may be the parking situation. Depending on what you drive, you may desire off-street parking, maybe even a garage.
Some areas experience a lot of hail during the summers. Other areas are known for break-ins. If this is important to you, you definitely need to add parking to your apartment hunting checklist.
9. Decoration and Maintenance Policies
While landlords are bound by lawful obligations, different landlords have different policies concerning decorating and maintenance.
Some landlords cover all maintenance issues while some cover very few. Just as varied is decorating policies. Some landlords tell you to go crazy decorating while others will charge you for every pinprick you put in the walls.
Make sure you're clear on what to expect from landlords and what they expect from you.
10. Breakdown of Costs and Fees
Finally, you'll want to have a good understanding of your apartment costs and fees. Find reviews online to determine if your landlord seems fair or not when it comes to returning a deposit. They may also be cited for raising the rent unfairly, failing to deliver on maintenance, etc.
However, anyone who "got burned" on their deposit will likely leave a bad review, even if they didn't actually deserve to get their deposit back. Keep that in mind while trying to gauge the landlord off of reviews.
We said it before, but it bears repeating. Don't settle for an apartment that's not good enough for you. Even if you're in a rush, you'll find the right place.
Your apartment needs to be safe, homy, and comfortable! Use this apartment hunting checklist next time you tour a new apartment!
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