General Question

hobbitsubculture's avatar

What should I know and make sure of before applying for an apartment?

Asked by hobbitsubculture (2141 points ) October 4th, 2010

My partner and I are looking for our first apartment, and we found a place that we can see ourselves living in. We are both moving out of our parents’ houses, so this is all new to us. We’re ready to fill out the application, but we want to make sure we didn’t overlook something crucial, since the fee is $250. That $250 goes to our first month’s rent if we’re accepted, and back to us if not. If we’re accepted, but don’t move in, we lose it. So we’ve both been wracking our brains to make sure there isn’t something we neglected that could turn out to be a problem.

The place we want to apply for meets our qualifications for space, location, type of neighborhood, total cost, and amount of natural light (partner grows plants). We feel like the landlord is on top of things, and probably an easy person to deal with as long as we pay rent and observe basic etiquette. Overall, it seems perfect for us. But I’m worried we missed something.

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22 Answers

ChaosCross's avatar

Does not sound like it to me. Just get used to buying your own toilet paper.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I’d check on your credit report, because they will. Also, find a copy of your tenent’s rights. I’ve seen places where they really don’t give a crap about the people living in the apartment. Good luck.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Open every single cabinet and drawer and look for tiny black droppings of roaches, medium-sized black droppings of mice, and larger ones of rats.

Flush the toilet to make sure it works properly and that it goes down. Turn on the faucets and bath to check for proper water pressure. A weak flow could mean there is a problem with the pipes.

Make sure the appliances are working.

If the place is not clean or if there are things left from the previous tenant, then forget about it.

Check the outside. Is it clean and well kept or is it littered and unclean?

Ask any questions you feel like. The landlord will be happy to answer, if he/she’s honest.

jrpowell's avatar

In a apartment the biggest problems are usually your neighbors. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about that. If you will be living below someone see if there is a way to see how loud people above you walking around is. It can be like living in a bass drum.

augustlan's avatar

Make sure you know what your rent covers, and what it doesn’t. Some places include water or gas costs in the rent, many don’t.

Frenchfry's avatar

Go to the neighborhood at night and hang out. Seriously apartment places come alive at night. You will know if it is quiet place or not. @hawaii_jake said some awesome advice.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@hawaii_jake Those are exactly the kind of things I was worried we’d missed. Overall, everything looked clean and well taken care of, but we didn’t turn on the faucets, or open all the drawers. I had wanted to bring a cell charger, so I could test the outlets, but I forgot.

@shpadoinkle_sue Where do I check my credit report? A lot of the websites offering that service look suspicious to me. As far as we know, my partner has good credit. I’m not even sure I have credit, since I pay for almost everything with cash, and otherwise only use a debit card.

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful answers.

Is is usually ok set up a 2nd appointment to see the apartment and check these things before handing the application?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Absolutely set up a 2nd appt. to check out the place. Some addl. recommendations are to drive from there to work and back during rush hour to get a feel of what it’s like. I rented a place only 8 miles from work, and it would take 45 min. to an hour to get there. Talk to people that live there and find out how they feel about the place. How is the parking situation? And on a personal note, if there is a balcony or patio/back yard, I really want it facing south for maximum sun exposure throughout the day.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Do you agree with your landlord’s process for dealing with faulty appliances/etc?

Do you know what an average electricity bill looks like for that size apartment?

Do you plan on getting a pet? If so would it be allowed in this apartment?

Basically, read through the rental agreement VERY carefully before applying.

augustlan's avatar

@hobbitsubculture In the US, you can go to annualcreditreport.com to get legitimate credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Everyone is entitled to one free report from each bureau every 12 months, so definitely don’t pay some service for that.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@augustlan You have to pay to see your score, though. The only thing you can see for free is whether or not everything is reporting correctly.

augustlan's avatar

@BBSDTfamily Correct. I wish you could see your scores for free that way, but you can’t. However, if you apply for a small loan at your personal bank, they’ll pull a report on you and mine told me my score when I asked. I didn’t even take the loan, in the end, but I got the free score out of the deal!

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@BBSDTfamily Didn’t think of checking the landlord’s procedures for faulty appliances, although a close reading of the rental agreement was on my list.

@augustlan and @BBSDTfamily I ran across that site earlier today, but hesitated to put my SSN in online. Especially without knowing if it was legit. I still might want to go with snail mail on that.

@Pied_Pfeffer How does one go about talking to people who live there? I read this advice somewhere, but my partner and I couldn’t figure out a good way to do this. Knocking on random doors and questioning people is out of our comfort zones, apparently. Parking situation is fine, and I already drive by it every day on my way to work.

augustlan's avatar

@hobbitsubculture It’s definitely legit, but it appears that you can also request it from them by phone.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

We have a 2nd appointmet tomorrow morning. I’ve made up a checklist to bring with us, using answers from this thread, suggestions from an ehow article, and some of my own concerns. It’s mostly for checking the nitty gritty, but I added some general stuff so we can use it for any future apartments we look at. I’m pasting it here in case someone else on fluther has the same question. Although, it’s probably missing a few things for someone looking to live in a city. It looked a lot nicer in open office with my bullet points :(

Apartment Checklist

__Things to check:__
Noise level
-Open windows to test outdoor sounds and traffic?
-How loud are people walking above?
-How much can be heard through the walls?
-How much noise on a Friday or Saturday night?

Signs of neglect or poor construction
-Around windows
-Under sinks
-Near furnace
-Inside and around appliances
-Around baseboards and ceiling
-Presence of rust, mold, and leaks
-Any signs that the above are being disguised

Presence of pests
-Tiny black roach droppings
-Mouse droppings
-Larger rat droppings
-In cabinets, drawers, corners, closets

Plumbing
-Flush toilet
-Turn on faucets, baths, and showers
-Check water pressure

Electricity
-Make sure all appliances work
-Test all outlets
-Test light switches
-Check mode of heating

Exterior
-Location and condition of trash cans
-How well-kept windows look from outside
-Condition of cars
-General signs of neglect
-Overall cleanliness and condition

General
-Enough space for furniture
-Adequate space in kitchen
-Space in closets and cupboards
-Proximity to work, family, groceries, library, etc
-Type of neighborhood
-Total cost
-Amount of natural light, directions of windows

__Questions to ask:__
-Is gardening permitted?
-Policy on changing locks?
-Laundry?
-Parking?
-Rules about music, noise, and visitors
-What type of people live here?

__Paperwork to review:__
-Tenants’ rights
-Landlord’s process for dealing with faulty appliances/etc
-Rental agreement/ lease
-Credit report: http://annualcreditreport.com/
-Application
-Costs of utilities

augustlan's avatar

@hobbitsubculture Great checklist! Let us know how it all turns out.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Well since @hobbitsubculture didn’t update, I will: we got the apartment! Everything looked great when we went for the second viewing (aside from the fridge that has since been replaced), so we applied a few days later. We move in next week. Still haven’t figured out how to just talk to people living there, but I guess we’ll have that chance now that they’ll be our neighbors.

I’m the aforementioned partner, in case that wasn’t obvious.

Response moderated (Spam)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s months later. How is the apartment complex and neighbors?

incendiary_dan's avatar

We only had one neighbor at first, and he and his guests are never loud. New people moved in who are deaf, and they’re two floors down so we don’t hear them either, unless their service dog (for the baby they just had) makes noise when we’re coming in and out. Just two or three weeks ago people moved in right below us, and so far they don’t make much noise. I was happy when they briefly had an unsecured wireless network, but then they secured it. :(

As for the apartment itself, we’ve had very few problems with it. The power hasn’t gone out for more than a short time, and only once did we have the heat go off for a while. Turned out the basement had flooded, as had one of the lower apartments. We did have some leaking ceilings during those big storms, but nothing major. Otherwise, we just need to be more diligent about cleaning. It’s a mess right now. Luckily, we have the motivation of hosting a Vaffeldagen brunch next weekend to push us towards more cleaning. Still don’t have enough shelves and other storage, but that’s rapidly improving.

We’re not too far from a main road, so the noise is sometimes annoying in the morning, since we both work late and tend to stay up.

Oh, and I finally got used to cooking on an electric stove.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks for the update. I’m so glad to hear that it is working out well for you two. May your Waffle Day be a success!

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