Posted January 24, 2011 by RentJungle
Before sign the dotted line to an apartment that looks like a dream, check the following 14 details that will save you from some unpleasant surprises down the line. Disclaimer: we are not lawyers. Please talk to a lawyer if you have legal questions!
- Move out details - Are leases automatically renewed or are you given time in advance to decide whether you want to stay in your apartment or not?
- Sublease details - Some landlords or property owners just need a month of notification in advance if you need to move out. Others demand that you stay and still others will let you find a replacement, but only ones that can pass their background check.
- What's the reputation of the complex or the landlord? Check www.apartmentratings.com where you can read tenants feedback on parking, office staff, safety and other important facts.
- Decorating - Can you repaint or put holes in the walls? If there's a backyard, are you allowed to use it as a garden?
- Cell phone reception - Silly as it may sound, sometimes your carrier won't reach into an apartment's walls, making for a very frustrating year.
- Windows, heating and cooling - Those big windows facing west may be great to watch the sunset out of, but if you live in a building with poor insulation, it's going to be boiling in the summer.
- Mail service - If you get a package from UPS or FedEX, where are the packages held and who signs for them if you are not home?
- Safety - Some apartments have a front door with four locks, but a backdoor that leads into an unlocked alleyway. Check the apartment and security system thoroughly before you move in. Also use your own judgement. If a neighborhood feels sketchy to you, even if the apartment is a dream come true, listen to your instincts.
- Cable and phone hook ups - In older apartments, getting these installed in your apartment will cost quite a bit of extra money. Also be aware that many older apartments don't have a lot of electrical outlets, which might not seem like a problem before you sign a lease, but will be once you all of your stuff is moved in.
- Extra fees - These can include late fees for rent, first and last month deposits, a cleaning fee prior to moving in
- Neighborhood - There's more to picking a good neighborhood safety. Also consider if there's a grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store and other necessary places nearby.
- Traffic and commuting - You might be physically close to work, but it still takes three bus transfers all over town to get there. Or, if you drive, you may be spending a sixth of your time at home circling the block for parking.
- Storage space - Sometimes your furniture doesn't actually fit your apartment. Or you get tired of hoisting a bike up three flights of stairs every single day. Check and see if there's a locked, apartment wide storage space to make your life a little easier.