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Jersey Boy and I got our first apartment together all most 2 years ago. I had never been a renter before and I wasn't sure what I was getting in to. Luckily he had rented apartments before and knew what to ask and what to look for when we were apartment hunting. I have put together a list of things to think about when looking for an apartment.
You've found the perfect place online and you're about to email and ask to view the apartment. These may be things you are all ready prepared for or if you were like me and new to renting you had no idea before committing to a lease.
- Am I allowed to decorate the apartment without penalty? I had high hopes for our current apartment as far as paint and such. Then my balloon was quickly deflated when we were told we were not allowed to paint any of the rooms and if we did we would be in charge of painting it back to original color(s) before moving out. We are allowed to hang things with nails but are not allowed to use tape on the walls. Decorating could mean losing your security deposit if you aren't careful.
- Are pets allowed? Some landlords forbid cats and dogs and then some are case by case basis. When we first got our apartment we had to pay $200 for having a cat. Pets were allowed at the time. Our furball has since ran away after moving in but also the landlord has altered the pet allowance to a size/weight limit of dogs.
- Are there quiet hours? Our county has quiet hours but the apartment complex also has stated the same quiet hours from 11pm-7am. We are the ground floor apartment and we hear so much from the family above us. It's annoying when it's the middle of the night and people are drunk and yelling down the stairs.
- Are utilities included in the rent? I assumed that most places would have utilities included in the cost of the rent. This is not always the case and at our current apartment the utilities are on us and it includes electricity and the water usage.
- What does it take to break your lease? Say you get a job that requires you to relocate or your plans change and you need to move 8 months in to your year long lease. Before signing on the dotted line for a lease contract you need to find out the penalties for breaking the lease. Breaking a lease can cost you your deposit. If you had a co signer the co signer could be held liable for the balance of the lease.
- What is the upfront cost due at signing? Many landlords expect a month's rent paid up front for a security deposit. My husband and I were lucky that when the couple who lived in our apartment before us was moving they covered our security deposit and first month's rent because they were breaking the lease. I cried the day he texted and told us we had been approved for the apartment and what he and his wife were doing for us.
There are other things to think about when trying to find the apartment of your dreams. Is the area/community in a decent neighborhood? Are the schools good to send the kids to? When you go to view an apartment listing talk to the neighbors. Nothing will tell you more about a place than a neighbor who had to pay for the Roto Rooter guy to come clean a pipe because they couldn't get ahold of the landlord in time or neighbor who has lived on the bottom floor for 2 years and knows that the kids in the complex like to play ding dong ditch during the summer. I hope this helps in your search for your next apartment. Happy hunting!