Are utilities included? How much do they generally cost?

Utilities differ depending on the property management and city you are renting in. Ask your leasing agent about utilities such as water, gas, cable, trash, pest control, electric, etc. Some utilities may be covered in the rent, and others may not. The agent usually has a list of preferred vendors to work with and can even get you special rates and discounts.

What are the fees that I have to pay up front? What is refundable if I am denied for any reason?

Most landlords will want at least a set amount paid up-front for a security deposit against damages when signing the lease. There also may be a charge for running a credit check and an application fee, which can cost anywhere from $25 to $75+ for each person on the lease 18+ yr. old. You may need to pay an administration fee as well to hold, clean and redecorate the unit you are applying for. Before paying this fee, ask if it’s refundable if you don’t get approved. Also, if you DO get approved and sign a lease, find out whether the fee can be applied toward your security deposit.

When is rent due and where do you go to pay it? Is it paid online or does it need to be dropped off at the leasing office? Is there a grace period if you are a little late? What is the penalty?

What’s the parking situation like for your vehicles?

Are spots reserved or first come? Can you pay extra for additional reserved spots or a garage? Is there a tag that needs to be placed on the car? What about guest parking?

Will your apartment fit your storage needs?

How big are the closets in each room? Is there outside storage on the patio? Are there any extra storage units on property? You never want to be in the situation where you are having to throw out personal belongings or open your closet door slowly to insure nothing falls out on you. Take a look before you lease to make sure you do not need to move to a bigger sized unit.

Is there a fee if you have to break your lease?

Life doesn’t always play out as we expect it to, stuff happens! What if you are put in the situation where you have to move out only four months into a twelve-month lease? Before signing, find out the penalties for breaking the lease under extenuating circumstances. And remember that verbal agreements aren’t the same as written ones, so ask for any agreements to be put in writing. Being an apartment locator I can tell you now that breaking your lease is nothing to play with! Not only will you likely forfeit your security deposit, but it will be very difficult for you to lease in almost any other apartment again. Your options will be very limited. Don’t Do It!

How much cell phone reception do you receive on the property? In your prospective apartment?

Having to stand on the counter or in a corner by a window just to send a text message is no fun. Dropped calls are no fun. If signal isn’t so great no need to go and look for another apartment, look into investing in a cell phone booster, they work!

What’s the quality of the property? What do they do to maintain the property? When something breaks how do you get ahold of maintenance? Are they available 24hrs?

Look around when touring to see if there is any trash laying around or if anything is broken. If you spot quite a few things that need to be repaired or looked at, there might be worst, unseen problems you’ll probably have to deal with in the future.

Are pets allowed? What are the pet policies and fees?

Are you planning on bringing your little furry friend along with you? If so, ask if they are allowed. Some properties may allow only dogs and not cats, or vice versa. Do they accept vicious breeds? Is there a security deposit required? What about a monthly fee? Are there open areas for you to walk your dogs and take them to the bathroom? Are doggy bags supplied? Do they do DNA testing on droppings and fine the owner? (Yes, this does happen at some properties) Is there a dog park?

Is this property in a good school district?

What school are nearby? What kind of ratings does the school have? This should be shown on the list of properties I send to you as well.

What businesses are nearby?

Are there any good restaurants around? Gas stations? Night life? Grocery stores?

How is traffic like around the area during rush hour? Are there any backroads recommended?

Am I allowed to decorate the apartment? Do I have to paint the walls back to the original color if changed? What about holes in the wall from nails?