Signing an apartment lease is a huge commitment—in most cases, you’re agreeing to pay someone every month for an entire year! Because getting an apartment is such a big deal, you want to make sure you’re making the right choice.
If you feel that a certain unit is the perfect fit, you should start talking to a few key players. Before you get the pen and offer your John Hancock on a binding document, have a conversation with these important people:
1. The Landlord
You’re probably facepalming right now, wondering why the landlord bears mentioning. Obviously you should talk to this person before you sign an apartment lease. However, it’s not that you should simply converse while looking at the apartment or going over logistics; you should talk to the landlord in depth.
Ask hard questions about the state of the unit, whether it will be cleaned and painted before moving in and all the stipulations of the lease. Can you sublease your unit should you need to move out early? Are you allowed to have pets? Make a list of questions before you meet with the landlord and get ready to really talk.
2. Future Neighbors
Have you ever started a new job and wished you had talked to the employees before accepting the position? Apply that prior knowledge to signing an apartment lease. Your neighbors have been in this building for some time and know the problems bound to plague you. Don’t be afraid to knock on some doors to get the low-down on your landlord, the building or the rent. It’s likely they did the same thing or wish that they had.
3. Previous Residents
Talking to potential neighbors can definitely give you great insight, but it can be scary to knock on a stranger’s door. That’s where the Internet comes in. You can see apartment ratings and reviews from certified residents (which means we’ve verified that they actually lived in the building) right on Rent.com.
The ratings for each complex are broken into categories, covering topics such as apartment condition, location, value for money and maintenance. You won’t be caught off guard if you consult the renters using Rent.com’s apartment ratings and review service.
4. Prior Landlords
Your new landlord or leasing company wants to make sure you’ll pay for your apartment and take care of it. For this reason, some will contact your former landlord. They’ll ask what kind of tenant you were to ensure you’re a good person to sign with.
Consider calling your previous landlord and asking for a letter of recommendation if you left in good standing. This will show you have initiative and can help you stand out in the crowd if you live in a city with a tight rental market. Of course, don’t do so if you have a bad history.