Once you have done your homework and are ready to look at apartments, bring your lists of apartment needs and wants, questions for the landlord as well as your rental budget and make an appointment to view your prospective rental apartment.
For each apartment you want to check out, call ahead to ensure that someone will be able to show it, and answer all your questions. You do not want to be put in a position where you have to revisit apartments unless you know that you really want to live there.
Be sure to request to see that actual apartment that is available (not one that is similar). Be on time so that your potential landlord will get a good impression. If you are late to view the apartment, your landlord may think that your will be just as nonchalant about paying rent on time.
If you will be sharing the apartment, it is best to bring both parties; acting as a representative for both renters can have undesirable results. The absent roommate may be dissatisfied with the apartment you chose, and can set a bad tone even before you move in.
It is much easier to discuss these issues when you are looking at the apartment than after you have moved in together. Also, having two perspectives is always better, as you can feel more confident about asking questions.
Making a good impression is also important; dress reasonably well, appear responsible and personable. This first impression will likely form the landlord’s opinion and can inform his or her decision if it comes down to a few candidates.
Walking through the Apartment
When walking through the apartment, you are going to need to examine a lot in a short amount of time. This is why it is helpful to have your list of needs and wants as well as your list of questions for the landlord. Be prepared to make a decision on the spot, if the apartment meets all of your needs, as some markets can be pretty competitive.
Be sure to ask to see the actual apartment unit, rather than a similar one or a model. Bring a camera to take pictures so that you do not have to keep coming back as you narrow your search. Do not rent the apartment without seeing the actual unit; even if the apartment is occupied, the landlord should be able to a time for you to view it.
Apartment Inspection Checklist
When walking through the apartment, you will want to inspect many features. This checklist should help you determine whether this apartment will be right for you.
How many rooms and are there overall? Are they large enough to accommodate you, your roommates or family and all personal belongings? Do you need a dining room, foyer or solarium?
- Will the configuration of the rooms allow for the type of lifestyle you envision? Do you require privacy or prefer communal living?
- Will your furniture work well in the apartment? Would you be willing to buy new furniture for the apartment? Can you furniture fit in the door?
- Listen for noise. Be quiet for a couple of minutes so that you can listen for neighbors, traffic, trains, planes, businesses, parking lots, etc.
- What is outside each window? Do you have a nice view? Can someone easily climb right in your window? Will you be able to open your windows and get fresh air? Will that be too noisy?
- Check for power outlets, especially in the kitchen and your main living room. Check for phone jacks, cable outlets and overhead lights to be sure all are located conveniently.
- Check out the natural light in each room. Will you need to have the lights on even during the day?
- Check out the closet space in the bedrooms. Can you fit your wardrobe comfortably?
- Can you fit your other belongings in the storage space afforded? Check the kitchen cabinets and drawers to make sure that it meets your needs.
- Check the water pressure at each faucet to be sure it is sufficient. Check the hot water to see how long it takes for water to heat up. Check the showers for desired water pressure.
- Test all the appliances, including the refrigerator, garbage disposal dishwasher, oven, microwave, furnace or heaters and air conditioning.
- See that the walls are not stained nor have holes from nails in them and ask when the apartment was painted last.
- Check for signs of moisture or mold, especially on bathroom ceilings. If the apartment smells or feels stuffy, ask the landlord about it.
- Make sure that smoke detectors are strategically located around the apartment.
- In the same vein, check to see that there is an emergency evacuation plan in place.
- If possible, talk to other tenants about their apartments, the building and the landlord. You won’t need to be pushy, but feel free to ask questions. Most people will give you a straight answer, especially if the landlord is not around.
- Apartment Building Inspection Checklist
Before or after you look at the actual apartment unit, check out the building’s hallways, entry areas, garage and other common areas, as well as the exterior of the apartment building. This will also give you a chance to talk to tenants.
- Check for the safety and security of parking. Is there sufficient guest parking?
- Are the common spaces of your building well-maintained, secure and functional?
- Are the laundry facilities clean and functioning?
- Are outdoor areas clean and secure? Are they good for hosting?
- Are storage lockers safe, clean and secure?
- Check the trash disposal area to make sure that it is easy to access and relatively clean.
- Check the surrounding neighborhood. Are you in an area where you can feel safe walking around? Does it meet your needs?
Potential Issues and Problems with Apartments
As you inspect apartment building and units, be conscious of potential problems and issues. The following list is of potentially problematic issues that you should be aware of, not necessarily reasons to avoid the apartment.
Gauge how much noise you can expect once living there. As you look at the apartment, check both inside and outside, listen with the windows open and closed and consider the time of day.
Be aware of traffic, trains, planes, noisy dogs, construction or music clubs. Downtown areas that are highly traffic will be noisy, but be sure that your apartment can also be a tranquil retreat.
Now you are ready to move to your new apartment. But first, make sure you know how to Get your Security Deposit Back!