You’ve narrowed down your rental apartment search to your preferred criteria (location and price chief among them) and you’ve made an appointment to view the suite. Now what? Once you’re in the apartment itself, it’s time to put your thinking cap on. Come armed with questions and your list of must-haves to ensure the rental apartment you are viewing will be the best home for you for years to come. Here are the top five things you should be looking for once inside your potential new abode.
Light Up Your Life
Check out the lighting situation in the rental apartment. Is there adequate lighting provided throughout the suite or will you need to purchase some extra floor and table lamps? What about the number of electrical outlets – are there enough to give you the power you need to run your home entertainment system and computer? These are the little details that will make a big difference when you move in. There is nothing worse than setting up your bed only to realize that there is no outlet nearby for your alarm clock.
Windows and Balconies, Oh My!
Are you a morning person? Perhaps you’d like to wake up with the sun shining down on you. An east-facing rental apartment would be a perfect fit for you, as would large, picturesque windows. If you come alive in the nighttime, you’ll want to ensure that your windows are either not facing east or that the rental apartment comes complete with thick blinds or draperies. Either way, inspect those windows to ensure they are properly sealed and won’t be the cause of any chilly drafts when winter rolls around. If you enjoy sitting outside and taking in the day, a balcony would be a wonderful addition to your rental apartment. As with the windows themselves, double check that the sliding doors to the balcony are in good repair.
Sure, the rental apartment is one bedroom – exactly what you’re looking for. But how is the space set up? The kitchen might be an open concept, leaving little room for a dining room table. The closets might be of the walk-in variety or the, well, too small variety. Make sure the layout of the rental apartment works for you and suits your lifestyle. If you find that you absolutely love everything about the suite but that it’s too small to fit everything you own, inquire about storage lockers onsite. Otherwise, it’s time to get creative with your home storage solutions.
Now is the time to do a quick scan of your wish list. Does the rental apartment have a fitness centre? What about indoor/outdoor parking? Ask to see the laundry room, the mail box area, the parking garage – anything that is important to you. Inquire about public transit stops nearby and the type of stores that can be found in the neighbourhood. It’s these seemingly small conveniences that will help to make your rental apartment feel like a home.
Flexible Leasing Options
You’ve decided that you love the rental apartment and are ready to take the plunge. But before you do, make sure the leasing options available work for you. For example, if you sign a lease for more than one year you may be entitled to discounted rent (or your current rent being locked in with no increases). If you only need a rental apartment for a short period of time, inquire about the possibility of a month-to-month lease. Don’t forget to take the time to read the leasing agreement to prevent any issues or misunderstandings down the road.
Apartments.com provides you with even more things to look for when scoping out rental apartments in their blog “10 Things to Look for in Your Next Apartment”:
Even more important than living in the hottest neighborhood is how close your place is to things that are important to you – public transportation, work, family and friends, and conveniences like grocery stores and restaurants. If you see a place you like, pull up Google Maps and figure out how long your commute will be to your favorite places.
During your showing, don’t hesitate to open the closets and check out how much space there is. Once you pack everything up, you’ll be surprised how much stuff you’ll need to find room for in your next place. Be sure to ask if there is additional storage in the building, and take a look at it while you’re there
Things like dishwashers and laundry facilities may not be essential, but they sure make daily life easier. While some people are fine with laundry in the building, others can’t live without machines in the unit. Figure out which type you are and add it to your checklist.
Heat and air conditioning:
Depending on what climate you live in, heat and/or air conditioning are comforts renters shouldn’t have to live without. Find out if the A/C is central, room by room or nonexistent, and ask if you can install window units if necessary. If the current tenants are home during your tour, ask them about the temperature control and average heating bills to avoid any unexpected surprises come winter.
If you have a pet, you need to find out the landlord’s policy before you even set up a showing. If they don’t allow pets, don’t waste your time looking at the place. On the flip side, if the building is pet friendly and you have allergies or don’t want to risk moving next door to an incessantly barking dog, it might not be the place for you.
Another nice-to-have is a yard, deck or small patio to get some fresh air when the weather’s nice. This especially comes in handy for people who like to entertain, and those who go stir crazy being stuck inside all day. If your potential place doesn’t have this perk, find out if there’s a park or public pool nearby.
If you have a car, being able to park without too much hassle is crucial. You don’t want to spend 20 minutes circling the block every day after work, no matter how nice your place is. If you check out a unit you like on a weekend, swing by on Monday after work and see how easy it is to find a spot, or ask the current renters if they have trouble.
This one can be hard to scope out before you’ve signed your lease, but do some sleuthing about your potential landlord. If it’s a big rental company with dozens of buildings around town, they can sometimes be hard to get a hold of when something breaks. Find out their policy on how long they take to respond to a problem, and make sure it’s included in the lease.
If the door to your potential apartment opens right onto the sidewalk with no fence or common entryway, safety may be a concern. Especially if you’re living alone, look for a building with a lobby or even a doorman. If it’s a smaller building, higher floors are usually safer than first floor or garden units.
Everything from the location to the thickness of the walls can affect how much noise you’ll have to endure in a potential pad. Being on a busy street, above a bar or next to train tracks should raise alarms. Also pay attention to how many surfaces you share with your neighbors – walls, floor and/or ceiling. At the very least, being on the top floor means you won’t have any upstairs neighbors walking around in high heels.
Especially if you’re planning on staying where you’re renting for a while, it’s worth doing as much research first to ensure your satisfaction.
The RentSeeker Team