When you're planning a move, there seems to be an endless checklist of "to-do" items and searching for an apartment can get overwhelming. It's easy to forget or overlook some of the simplest but most important things!
Making sure you have the finer details of your finances in order when it comes to your new apartment will help you avoid surprises and secure a new apartment that is comfortably within your budget.
Here are 5 questions to ask the landlord before you rent an apartment.
1. How much is the monthly rent?
OK, this may seem obvious, but it's important. Don't assume that you know the monthly rent because of something you saw online. The rent for apartments within a complex can vary a lot based on location, floor plan, and other factors like recent updates or renovations.
When you figure out which unit you like best, ask about the monthly rent for that particular unit – including the floor its on and the position it's in in the complex.
If you have pets, you should also inquire if there's an additional monthly pet rent fee.
2. What does (and doesn't) the rent include?
Different apartment communities have different policies when it comes to amenities. Make sure you know what is and is not included for categories such as:
- Gym access
- Common area use/maintenance
- Trash and recycling services
Also, be sure to ask if there are shared community fees that get added to your monthly rent bill. Some communities will divide up the utilities for shared use spaces like the pool and gym area between residents each month which can add up!
3. What is the required deposit?
Apartment deposits vary wildly because of a variety of factors. Everything from state and local laws to property management company policies to your personal credit history can affect how much you have to pay up front to rent an apartment.
Ask what is required for a security deposit, damage deposit, and (if you have a furry friend) a pet deposit. Also, ask how it's applied (i.e. is it held and refunded after 12 months or applied to your last month of residency).
4. What is an average utility bill?
If your utilities are not included in your rent, then ask how much an average utility bill will be for the unit you're interested in. Many properties will have this type of information available, but you may need to reach out to the utility company if they don't.
5. What are the ways you can pay rent?
An increasing number of apartment communities are offering online payment options that allow you to pay rent with a debit card, credit card, or e-check. Some even offer automatic bill pay so you never pay late. You should also ask if there are processing fees for any of the available payment methods. This will help you avoid those little fees that can really add up over time.
Don't be shy about asking these financial questions when you're apartment hunting. It may feel a little uncomfortable to talk about money, but it's important for your financial health. Apartment leasing staff expect and are ready to answer these types of questions so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.