You feel a drop of sweat fall off your cheek. The contract determining where you will sleep for the next year sits on the table and you hesitate as you reach for the pen. One thought is racing through your mind, “is this the right apartment?” Many people rent an apartment and find that it was not quite what they were expecting. Here are 5 things you can do before you sign that apartment lease to feel a little more at ease.
Visit the Apartment in Person
Walking through the apartment will let you point out damages to the landlord. If you move into the apartment and there are damages from the past tenant that were not noticed, you may end up taking the blame when you move out. Also, walking through the apartment will help you determine if it is an apartment you are willing to live in for the next year.
Get Everything in Writing
If it’s not written down, it might as well not have been said. If you come to a deal verbally it may be misunderstood by both parties. Also, if there is nothing written down it is hard to defend against unfair actions taken against you. Any written documents will be your friend when terminating an apartment lease early or in other circumstances. Another reason to get agreements in writing is the landlord may forget or in special circumstances such as student housing the manager of the apartment complex may change halfway through the year.
Look at Your Budget
As soon as you sign that contract you must pay for rent. Make sure that you can afford it consistently. A good rule of thumb is to have three times your monthly payment every month in your bank account. Some things to look out for are renter’s insurance, heat, gas, electricity, and internet. Sometimes the apartment complex will pay for a lot of utilities but not all do.
Ask About Other Expenses
Some apartments charge you extra fees to mow the lawn or plow the parking lot. Make sure you know about all the possible fees so that you can be prepared for them in the future. Knowing about possible fees in the future will help you prepare for a rainy day where there is not as much money in your account. You may even wish to negotiate other fees such as paying an extra deposit to allow for pets in your apartment.
Research Apartments in the Area
Make sure you do your research. Some cities change the price based on whether it’s the weekend or a weekday because the demand for housing is so high. It’s always a good idea to take your time before you take the plunge to decide if you really want to rent the place.
So, there you have it. You’ve visited the apartment, the pet policy is written down, your budget leaves lots of room after rent and other expenses, and you’ve compared this option with others in the area. You’re ready to sign and hopefully, you feel a little more confident about it.