Apartment Living: Questions to Ask Before Leasing

Standard questions such as “are pets allowed?” “how much is rent?” and “are there one or two bedrooms?” are used on a daily basis among renters-to-be. However, there are a plethora of other questions that are sometimes neglected. These questions bring on answers about hidden fees, rules, convenience services and objects. To secure an apartment just right for yourself and your family, in-depth questions need to be asked. Here are eight questions to ask before leasing.

Is there parking available?

In busy areas, parking spots could be considered a luxury. It would be a huge disappointment to sign a lease then discover there is nowhere to park your vehicle. If there is parking available, find out how many vehicles you are allowed to park.

What can I put on my patio?

If there is a patio or porch on your unit, it is wise to ask this question. Oftentimes, there is a quick blurb on the lease agreement about what is or isn’t allowed on the patio, but not generally in detail. For example, many apartments allow grills on the patio so long as they are not used (for safety reasons). But some renters fail to hear the “so long as they are not used” part of the rule.

What fees are applied if the rules are broken?

Fees for broken rules sometimes accrue, often in secret. For reckless renters, an unpleasant surprise might just await them on their next rent’s bill. Failure to clean up after pet, disruptive noise after quiet time, or (in a personal case) using curtains without a white back can all result in penalty fees depending on the lease agreement.

Is the unit cable and/or Internet ready?

Many tenants have experienced the horrifying realization of their new apartment unable to receive cable or Internet. If you are unable to live without one or both of these conveniences, be sure to ask this question.

Can I hang things up on the walls?

I’ve encountered landlords who allow holes in the walls, landlords who expect all the holes to be filled before the last day of the lease, and landlords who do not allow any holes whatsoever. If you like to decorate your walls or wish hang up lots of family pictures, it is a good idea to know what lies in store for you if you do either of those things.

Do you recommend any utility companies?

There are some lease agreements that state that the renter selects his/her utility provider and provides the account number within so many days after the lease begins. If you are new to the area or there are many different available options, it might be a wise choice to ask for the names of the reputable companies.

Can you define normal “wear and tear”?

Most security deposit agreements state that any damage besides normal wear and tear warrants the retaining of some or all of the security deposit. Stingy landlords may have a limited definition of “normal wear and tear” while lenient landlords may include more in the allowed wear and tear.

What monthly fees are there along with my rent amount?

Most apartments advertise the monthly rent amount, but skip the little other monthly charges, such as parking, trash or pet rent. If your budget is $800 a month, and rent is $775 a month, that allows $25 a month to cover those hidden fees. Two pets could easily cost another $50 a month in some areas.