It is a sad fact of life, but most people are amateur apartment hunters. That fact follows them into their apartment living. Many live to regret the day they ever found their current living spaces.
As an apartment dweller, and one who has worked in the property management industry for a number of years, I am here to help. First of all, always remember when you are touring at the heels of a leasing agent, that they are not really there to help you. They are there to turn over a unit. Depending on their commission or bonus structure, they are there to earn their living. So, when looking at this wonderfully laid out possible new home, ask the following questions. And don’t let the leasing agent hurry the tour.
1) Ask why the previous renter left. Most agents will be thrown by this question, and will allow more time with you.
They will be more careful, and more honest with their answers. You will probably not get much of an answer to your question, but it is worth it just to set the tone for your future question and answer period. Remember, you will be paying rent to this company, they are not doing you a favor by “allowing” you to rent there.
2) Ask about utilities. Do you pay gas? What is included in the utility bill? Some complexes pay for water, some don’t, it’s important to know. If you are living in colder climates, it is also important to know how high those bills get in the winter There have been several places I have lived in over the years, where I have paid, and paid dearly, by not knowing the answer to this question.
3) If you like pets, and may want to have one in the future, ask about their requirements. A good number of apartments do not allow animals at all. Those that do might have poundage requirements. Or they might have types of dogs that they don’t allow, or they might not allow puppies or kittens. Get the facts about animals.
4) Ask about their parking situation, and when you leave, size up the lots. Parking is a common problem in most complexes. Don’t let any leasing agent describe a parking utopia without rolling your eyes. While you are sizing up the parking lots, size up the landscape, too. The appearance of a properties landscape is a good indicator of their pride in their community.
5) Many cities are now passing laws about barbeque grills. Many will not allow grills at all on the top floors of apartments. Some require that a grill is placed a certain number of feet from a lower apartment. All of these laws can affect your style of living.
6) Find out what kind of security the apartment community employs. If you notice an overweight man walking around in an obvious rent-a-cop uniform, don’t feel too safe. Also, look for good double-bolt locks, and locks on the windows. Today, there are companies that install security alarms for apartments. You may have to foot the bill for this kind of security, but it would be a good idea to find out if the complex will allow you to do so.
7) Do they do regular extermination checks on the property? Varmints and the insect community usually do not take up residence at those complexes that employ year round exterminators. This question is more than worth its weight in gold.
The gravest problem of all is the insides half eaten by insects and termites and nothing can be more gross and revolting than to see the moth eaten bed sheets, torn curtains, sofa covers which are half eaten with the cotton sticking out is quite grotesque to look at and makes you feel nausea. So take care to inquire about the exterminators in charge of cleaning the house with the strongest pesticides available in the market so as to give the house the regal feeling of a Parc Central Residences complex in a Porsche locality in your neighborhood to make things better.
Finally, keep on asking anything that comes to mind. If you feel that a leasing agent is hedging, press for more information. Remember, you will be living in this apartment every day of your life. Your comfort and safety is worth the time it will take to get the answers you need to make a solid decision.