Renters: Don't forget to ask these questions
Maybe that apartment has the dishwasher you wanted, but do you get cell-phone reception?
There is no shortage of rental advice, from how to find your first apartment to how to screen your landlord. But there are a lot of things you may not discover about your new digs until after you move in. And while you can't find out everything, Ilyce Glink at CBS MoneyWatch came up with a list of 10 questions renters often forget to ask.
One of the most essential questions on her list is, "Does my cell phone get reception?" It's frustrating enough to work in an office building without cell-phone reception or to spend time at a restaurant or business that deliberately blocks cell signals, but you certainly want to be able to make phone calls from your home.
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Glink points out that because vacancies are down, some renters may think they should take what they can get, but you shouldn't settle for an apartment that won't meet your needs.
Here are a few of her other important questions (see all of them here):
- How is the water pressure? No one wants deal with a shower that barely drizzles. Turn on the water, and ask a current tenant how long the water takes to get hot in the mornings, when lots of the building's occupants may be trying to get ready at once.
- Are there windows, where are they, and do they open? You want to know whether you're going to get any natural light, whether your view consists of a trash can in the alley and whether you'll be able to open the windows for fresh air.
- Who handles package deliveries? If you don't have a doorman in your building, what happens if you're at work when the fresh-baked cookies from your grandma in Minnesota arrive via UPS or FedEx?
- What's the deal with the heat? If you're apartment hunting in the spring, you're probably not thinking about the chill of winter. But it's important to know whether your heat is controlled individually, if it's efficient and how much it generally costs during the winter months.
Keep in mind that your priorities for a home are personal, so think about what your needs and daily routines are, and make sure you find a place that suits you.
As Lee Lin, a co-founder of no-fee apartment listings website RentHop.com, puts it:
"Everyone has a different set of priorities and preferences. Some people are willing to pay an extra $200 for a terrace … Know what you want and make sure you're not overpaying for features."
If you're renting, you need to treat every apartment showing as a property inspection. Don't be afraid to poke around and make sure the place will be comfortable – and safe.
– Leah L. Culler is a freelance journalist and longtime renter. She believes that keeping up with the rental market means you have to keep on moving: She has lived in 10 rentals in six years. She hopes to someday own her own home – and stay there awhile.
A few more thoughts. Check the history of the rental unit and landlord. How long did tennants stay, did landlord refund deposits and or last months rent when tennants left appropriately. Did things get fixed when needed. Is the landlord nit picky or medalsom, after all this is rented to be your HOME. If it is a house does the landlord dictate to how you do the landscaping and what you put in your yard? Ask questions of the landlord as if they were renting from you and if possible talk to past tennants. Why did they move? Get monthly average of bills from all of the utilities. Also, is the place up for sale? If it goes up for sale and sales how much notice will you get and will you be compensated for the inconvienence of the showing of the home. And make sure that if you do have a lease that it address things such as sewer lines, dryer and washer vents.
I find this article intresting in that some of the suggested questions to ask. but some of them may be Illegal to ask. as to driving through a renal after the office is closed or talking to teh neghbors that may be tresspassing in many complexes now. The complex my wife and I live in is very spotty and we know that many times others get away with things we can not get away with. I know we are required to have one provider of cable/ phone/ internet, one electrical company.
As to being shown one apartment then switched to another they have model apartments and you cant see teh unit you get till lease is signed and you are moving in.
Ask if they are contracted with certain compaines for your electricity and cable. I moved into my apartment complex and they were contracted with a cretain electric company and I didnt realize that until I was calling around to get cheaper rates. They later on signed a contract with a certain cable company and we were told that we either signed on by a certain date or we would no longer have cable services. I will definetly ask these questions when I move.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.