When apartment hunting, you know all the big questions to ask. Pet policy? Check. 24-hour gym access? Check. Brand new stainless steel appliances? Now you’re wondering if this apartment is a dream come true.
But wait! Have you asked about trash collection? What about subletting policies? When choosing a new place, these minor questions might seem like the least of your concerns—but the answers might just be deal-breakers.
From big stuff to small stuff, our team answers a LOT of questions from prospective tenants. And to help you on your housing journey, we’ve put together this handy checklist of questions to ask when renting an apartment.
1. Are there any deals or move-in specials?
It’s like our parents always like to say: you’ll never know unless you ask. Some leasing companies and landlords offer move-in specials and discounts that you may not know about unless you ask for them.
2. What utilities are included in the rent?
Apartments typically cover the cost of some utilities (like water) and then charge for others (like electricity and gas) as part of your monthly rent. But, the particulars will vary from place to place. Ask which utilities you’ll be on the hook for, as well as estimates of the average monthly costs for other tenants. A sky-high electric bill can have a bigger impact on your monthly budget than you’d think.
Tip: Ask what utility companies and internet service providers are available in the area to compare your price options. (And don’t forget to schedule service in advance of your move-in date!)
3. What changes can you make to the apartment?
Different rentals will have different rules about customizing your unit. Are you allowed to paint the walls? What about hanging shelves or mounting a television? Knowing the rules beforehand will influence your decor plans (and potentially help you get back more of your security deposit when you move out).
Fun fact: Our units at the Villas feature specially-placed wall outlets to mount TVs!
4. How does parking work?
It’s easy to forget about parking until you’re struggling to find a space near your building after coming home late at night. And if parking is streetside? Talk about a headache!
Ask if the apartment has a dedicated lot or garage available and if spaces are assigned or first-come, first-served. If parking is unassigned, you may be able to pay an additional fee for a designated space. Also, ask about guest parking policies, as some places may not allow overnight guest parking.
Tip: If possible, drive around the apartment during the evening to scope out the parking situation. Weekend nights are usually when lots are at their fullest.
5. How is pest control handled?
Pests are a notorious problem for many apartment dwellers, especially if the previous tenants weren’t great about keeping things clean.
Ask about how the property handles pest control. Do they regularly spray the entire community? Is pest control only available upon request? Is there a history of bed bugs in any nearby units? The answers to these questions can potentially help you avoid moving in with roachy roommates.
Tip: When you tour a prospective unit, check for bug droppings inside of cabinets, on top of high shelves, and near baseboards. Droppings may look like tiny dark specks, stains, or dirt deposits.
6. When and how is trash collected?
One important question on your apartment checklist should be about how trash is handled, especially if you’re looking at leasing with a large rental community.
Is it a small question to ask? Yes. But the difference between daily valet trash pickup and an overflowing community dumpster right next to your front door has a pretty big impact. (P.S. The Villas at Nexton offers valet trash service!)
7. Is it possible to sublet the unit or break the lease?
Unfortunately, emergencies happen—and you may need to leave your rental before the lease ends. Even if you don’t plan to leave early, ask if the apartment has any policies about breaking leases or subletting units.
Some places charge a fee to break a lease, while others require you to continue paying rent until they find a new tenant. You may be able to negotiate an agreement about lease breaks if your apartment doesn’t have a set policy.
8. Is there 24 emergency maintenance?
Don’t take emergency 24-hour maintenance services for granted! You’ll be glad it’s available after you wake up in the middle of the night to a broken pipe in the bathroom. Ask about how after-hours emergencies are handled and who handles them.
Property management companies often offer dedicated after-hours maintenance teams. With individual landlords, they may work with a 24-hour maintenance professional… or they may show up at your door themselves to do a DIY repair.
Tip: Ask about lock-out and key replacement fees, too. Some properties charge extra to replace keys after hours.
9. What year were the buildings built?
It may sound a little trivial to ask about the apartment’s construction history—but the year the building was made is actually more important than you think.
That’s because buildings made before the late ‘70s often have lead paint on the walls. When lead-based paint chips or rubs off, touching or breathing in the particles can cause serious health effects.
The US banned lead-based house paint in 1978, but lead can still be found in millions of apartment units and homes built before then. Landlords are legally required to inform you if there’s lead-based paint in your rental, but it never hurts to ask.
Tip: You can avoid the worry of lead paint (and other safety hazards, like asbestos) by choosing a place built recently!
Looking for a place that has it all?
We know how tough it can be to find a place that ticks all the checkboxes! Here at the Villas at Nexton, we try to make resident life as comfortable and convenient as possible. From private patios all the way down to valet trash service, the Villas is the best place in Summerville to call home.