Okay, after looking at apartments for weeks, you think you have finally found the perfect place! Congrats! What’s next? Submitting an application, signing the lease, getting the keys, and the daunting task of moving in. Moving can be hectic, and it’s important to make sure you’ve done your homework. To aid you in this process, we’ve compiled important questions to ask before + after signing your lease:

BEFORE signing your lease, it’s important to ask questions that would be deal-breakers for you. You should know what you need from an apartment so cover all your bases and clarify important points before putting pen-to-paper is so critical to a smooth and enjoyable renting experience.

“How do I pay rent + how are late fees assigned?”

Do you have to cut a check or transfer money electronically? Is there an online portal to pay rent? Ask!

“What is your guest policy?”

If you are a social butterfly, or plan on having frequent visitors, you should investigate the guest policy, quiet hours, etc.

“Where do residents and guests park?”

Have a car? Is there a garage? Street parking? Where do guests park?

“How far in advance do I need to give notice before moving out?”

These regulations are different in the county vs city, however, both are typically 30-60 days depending on jurisdiction. Usually, notification has to be given before the start of the month of your lease period!

“Can you sublet/what is the penalty for breaking lease?”

Applying to new jobs out of state? Or anticipating a summer internship? You should see what your options are for subleasing or breaking a lease, if need be.

“Are utilities covered in the cost of rent?” “Do you offer extended lease options?”

This is important for determining budget. If utilities are not included, ask about average costs. This will help you determine if the apartment is still within your budget.

“What are the options for lease renewal?”

“Do you offer extended lease options?”

Sometimes, extended lease options are cheaper than a traditional 12-month lease. This is a good way to save $ on rent if you know you’ll be sticking around for awhile.

“What ensures I recover my full security deposit?”

If you know what the landlord/leasing company is looking for beyond normal wear and tear, it’s easier to ensure that the apartment/house is in a condition to get a full deposit.

“How are emergency repairs handled?”

Who do you contact? Are there after-hour contact numbers? Who assumes financial responsibility? Make sure this is spelled out in your lease; these costs should be the landlord’s responsibility and can really add up if you have to pay out-of-pocket.

“How long to your tenants usually stay in the apartment/building?”

This question can give you some additional insight about the landlord/management if you’re on the fence about renting a certain place. If tenants only stay a year, there may be some issues that cause them not to renew leases. Stay alert!

AFTER signing your lease, it’s important to ask questions about the status of your new digs, like documentation! This helps your case when you move out. If your landlord or housing company tries to make certain damages your responsibility, you have evidence that those damages were present when you moved in.

Ask for a home inspection when you get your keys.

It’s important to inspect the house and take photos to document & evaluate condition. You should highlight all problematic areas to the homeowner/leasing agent:

  • Flooring – peeling/chipped corners, hardwood scratches
  • Chipping paint, marks on walls
  • Water damage
  • Cabinets/Drawers – chipped or loose hinges
  • Countertops – nicks or chips
  • Appliances that aren’t functioning at full-capacity

Who are the potential utility providers?

Although there tend to be limited options for utility providers, it’s important to know if there are more options. Provider costs could factor into budget, so it’s something to consider.

To help you find the perfect place, we’ve also compiled 9 Unspoken Things to Look for Before Renting an Apartment and 8 Ways Renters can Save Money.  Happy house-hunting!