General Question

kenmc's avatar

What should I know about apartment hunting that one isn't usually aware of?

Asked by kenmc (11763points) May 17th, 2010

I’m looking into getting my first apartment and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I have an appointment to fill out an application and view one in a couple days and I was wondering if there’s anything I should know before going in on the place.

Some of the amenities are:

A/C Window
Electric Stove
Garbage Disposal
Linen Closet
Self-cleaning Oven
Walk-In Closet

I believe these to be pretty standard. Is there anything obvious missing?

I am in a little over my head and help would be awesome.

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26 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

Be sure to asking about laundry facilities (whether there is a washer/dryer in each unit or a public one somewhere i the building). It’s also good to ask what is included in your rent (such as heat and hot water). I always look at the entry as well (to see how secure it seems).

When you agree to move in, be sure to do a very thorough move in inspection. Make notes of every defect, no matter how small it is.

Dog's avatar

Upper floor if you are a light sleeper. Chances are otherwise you may get stuck under a family with kids.

LeotCol's avatar

You didn’t mention a bathroom in your list. Might be helpful to know the exact arrangement especially if you are staying with other people.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I would recommend doing simple things when in the apartment. Flush the toilet. If the water doesn’t go down easily, there could be plumbing problems. Check under the sinks for signs of leaks and little black pill-like things, which could be signs of roaches or worse.

kenmc's avatar

@LeotCol It’s one bath/bed and I will be living by myself.

Thanks for asking about that. I should have put it in the details…

LeotCol's avatar

It looks like you have a lot of things covered. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to learn about the fire exits etc.

Facade's avatar

Check the ceilings for patchwork over water damage.

marinelife's avatar

Know that the landlord will check your credit. If it is not good, then have a story ready. Also, you will need references. If you have not ever had an apartment before, you will need to supply personal references.

njnyjobs's avatar

Make sure you understand the Lease Agreement in detail. Pay attention to Deposit and conditions for the return thereof. Check State laws regarding amount of deposit and advance payment. Some states allow a landlord to require deposit equal to 2 months rent, while others could be more or less.

Also, if you expect to have company, find out what the policy on visitors staying over a period of time.

hug_of_war's avatar

If you’re allergic to cats ask about previous owners

CMaz's avatar

Landlords suck. Even the good ones.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

What about heat? Where does it come from, and who pays for it (if you live in a place where winter is relevant). Parking? How many spaces do you get? Is there anyplace for your guests to park? Or do you have to park on the street?

Turn on the shower. How is the water pressure? Do you have tile in the bathroom, or just a plastic tub surround? Tile suppresses mold better.

You didn’t mention a dishwasher. Very nice to have.

And what ChazMan said. Your biggest concern should be how much money you’ve got left over after the rent is paid. You want to save up enough for a down payment on a place you can own.

gailcalled's avatar

Check out how easily sound travels. Are the walls paper-thin? Take pictures of any damage with date on them. When I moved out of an NYC apt., the owners stuck me with damage done by the professional window washers. I took them to small claims court; we settled on the courthouse steps. I ended up paying half the damage.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Don’t forget insulation. Even a well furnished apartment with central heating can be miserable in the winter if it’s not well insulated. It can also lead to higher heating bills.

The arrangement and size of the bathroom and kitchen are very important. “Galley” kitchens (example) are alright for one person, maybe two, but try fitting more than 2 people in there and it gets really crowded. Same with the bathroom.

@gailcalled is EXACTLY right about the damage. You don’t want to get stuck paying for things you didn’t break!

Top floors are nice if you don’t want to hear people walking around all the time, but remember it will cost you more to have furniture delivered to places with stairs. They’re also more dangerous if there is a fire in the building.

Storage space is very important as well. Linen closets and pantries are a must, especially if you’re going for a smaller apartment where inadequate storage space can lead to a really unpleasant living situation.

Most people don’t get a chance to look at prospective apartments with a fine-toothed comb, but look for certain things when you’re looking at the apartment. Is it clean? Does it have a nice paint job? How well can you tell that it’s been lived in? If the landlord didn’t put much effort into making it look nice to prospective tenants, they’re not likely to be very helpful when you’re actually living in the place.

jazmina88's avatar

check the air paths from the airport. or close trains. close to superhighway??

so much noise.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@jazmina88 True! Or ask about the neighborhood, if there’s anyone who has a habit of blasting reggae-ton or practices drums in their living room daily…

However, if you are looking in a metropolitan area, access to public transportation is very important.

DrBill's avatar

Drive by about 1–2 in the morning to see if it really is a quite neighborhood,

SamIAm's avatar

This may seem fairly obvious but make sure you are aware of any security/move in/broker fees… they will be in addition to your first month’s rent. Also, you can look online, or contact the local police department to find out about safety in the area… there are maps that show the amount of robberies, grand theft auto, rapes, etc… in the past however many days/months. First apartments are sooo exciting and you’ll get the hang of it, just be smart with your money and aware of your surroundings (maybe install (ask first if you can) an extra chain lock on your door and don’t forget to lock your windows when you’re not home or sleeping if it will make you feel better)

Kayak8's avatar

I used to be a landlord. There are some really good ideas above. @DrBill ‘s suggestion to drive by at unique times is exceptionally important (you could be near a train track or might find hoods hanging out at all hours in the parking lot, etc).

I also encourage you to take pictures of everything with a date stamp on the camera when you move in. That way, you can see how the place changes over time and know if it is your responsibility to fix the issues or not. Also take pictures after you have all your stuff in the place for the purpose of your RENTER’s INSURANCE! It is not at all expensive and well worth it if you are robbed or if there is a fire or something.

YARNLADY's avatar

Get a copy of the renters and owners rights handbook for your area. They are usually found online.

alamo's avatar

Drive by the property on Friday and Saturday evening, around sunset. This is when management is not in the office and will tell you what the place is like after hours. Also call the local police department or precint. They will have records of all calls to the property or maybe an officer that knows the area will talk with you.

Get renters insurance. The property I worked at had a fire in one of the buildings. The people that had insurance had an agent to help the next day. They had boxes, bags, moving trucks and paid help to move and salvage what could be saved.They even had a hotel room the next day to stay at while finding a new place to live.

The move in checklist is extremely important. You don’t need to have everything on the list fixed, but it has to be documented. If there is somone else managing the place when you move out, the checklist is your only protedtion.

InspecterJones's avatar

Don’t pay for ANYTHING except a credit check (till you get the apt that is), check under the sinks for water damage, check behind kitchen cabinets for evidence of rodents.

kenmc's avatar

Thanks everybody!

I’m going to make a list of all the things listed above and take it with me.

syzygy2600's avatar

I’m a little late to this topic but be wary of a strong odor of tobacco. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there are smokers in the building. Large infestations of cockroaches give off a strong odor that smells almost exactly like tobacco smoke.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

thanks to everyone – we’re getting a new apartment soon as well and this was helpful!
@boots woot for independence!

PsychoticDiscoMonkey's avatar

Normally, people don’t realize that if you are on disability, you have the highest chance of getting an Apartment. If you have some kind of medical problems, or you’re in College, and especially both…It raises your chances of getting an apartment by a large percentage.

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