Renting an apartment is an exciting but crucial decision, as it often becomes your home for a significant period. To ensure you make an informed choice and avoid potential surprises, it’s essential to get the info beforehand, whether you need to know more about lease terms, amenities, responsibilities and more. We’ve gathered the top questions to ask when renting an apartment, empowering you to make a confident and well-informed decision for your future living space.
19 questions to ask when renting an apartment
Whether it’s top-of-mind questions or typically forgotten-about details, this list ensures you have your bases covered to learn about the living experience curated by an apartment.
1. What is the monthly rent?
This is arguably the most important question to ask when you’re renting an apartment so you’re aware of how much you’ll be expected to pay monthly for rent. Before you go into any apartment tour or even before you begin your apartment search, it’s a good idea to calculate how much rent you can afford. That way you can determine if the apartment you’re touring is within your budget.
2. Are utilities included in the rent? If not, what utilities am I responsible for and how much do they typically cost?
Standard utilities may include electricity, gas, water, sewage, garbage and internet/cable. The cost of utilities can vary based on factors such as apartment size, location and local rates. Knowing if utilities are included in the rent helps you accurately budget your monthly expenses. If utilities are not included, you need to account for those additional costs and accounts you’ll need to set up.
3. How long is the lease term and what are the penalties for breaking the lease?
Understanding the lease term length allows you to plan your living situation accordingly. You may have specific needs or future plans that require a shorter or longer lease term. It helps you determine if the apartment is suitable for your intended duration of stay. In the same vein, asking about the penalties for breaking the lease helps you understand the flexibility you may have in case of a situation where you need to relocate or move out.
4. Are there any additional fees or deposits required, such as a security deposit or application fee?
Most of the time, you can expect a security deposit and an application fee at the beginning of your apartment renting journey. The application fee, while it isn’t refundable, covers the cost of running the renter’s background checks and processing the application.
The purpose of a security deposit is to provide the landlord with financial protection in case the renter causes any damage to the apartment or fails to fulfill certain obligations outlined in the lease agreement.
5. Is renters insurance required?
Renters insurance isn’t always required. Some landlords or property management companies may require tenants to have renters insurance as a condition of the lease. They will include this requirement in the lease agreement and explicitly state the purpose of this coverage is for the renter’s personal belongings and liability. Sometimes renters can even purchase this insurance through a provider recommended by the apartment, making this process easy.
6. What is your subletting policy?
Subletting is a great option for renters if they are ever in need of their lease being covered. By asking about the subletting policy during a tour, you are aware of the potential to have this option in case your future plans change.
7. What should I know about parking? How many guest spots can I expect to get?
When touring an apartment, asking about parking is important because it directly affects your convenience. Parking is sometimes included in rent but there are also cases where there’s an additional fee you pay for parking. If you live in a city where parking is a little less accessible, you may have to pay for a parking garage pass.
Asking about guest parking helps you understand the availability and convenience of parking for your visitors. It is especially important to ask these questions when renting an apartment if you frequently have guests or expect to entertain visitors. This will typically either be a guest parking pass or designated guest spots/ guest floors in the parking garage.
8. Are pets allowed, and if so, do you have any weight limits or breed limits that I should know about?
Most apartments are furry-friend-friendly. You’ll most likely run into an additional pet fee you’ll pay monthly on top of your rent and monthly utilities. In conjunction with this question, asking about breed and weight limitations is equally as important. Apartment complexes often have specific policies regarding pets to ensure the well-being of both the animals and the other residents.
9. Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished?
If you’re someone who prefers convenience and doesn’t want the hassle of buying or moving furniture, a furnished apartment might be a better fit than a standard, non-furnished apartment. Knowing whether the apartment comes with furniture helps you estimate your expenses and plan your budget accordingly, or determine if the furniture is an expense you want to take on.
10. What appliances are included in the apartment?
It’s good to know what appliances are in the apartment and what appliances you’ll need to purchase depending on your individual needs. Some apartments will lack in-apartment appliances but have communal kitchen and laundry appliances that you’ll share with the rest of the building residents.
11. Is there a maintenance staff available for repairs and how quickly are maintenance requests typically addressed?
This question gives you an idea of how to handle any repairs or malfunctions that happen in your apartment and how long you may have to wait for repairs if something in the apartment needs reparation.
12. Is there a designated area for trash and recycling? How often is it collected?
Whether the apartment offers valet trash services, designated trash areas or coordinated trash pickups, it’s an often forgotten-about part of the renting process. Many apartments will have trash rooms, recycling collection and/or valet trash, giving residents options and designated areas to dispose of waste.
13. Are there any amenities available, such as a fitness center, pool or community room? Are there any additional fees to use these amenities?
A huge part of your apartment living experience is the amenities offered outside of your individual apartment walls. Different individuals have varying preferences and priorities when it comes to amenities, so asking about them helps you determine if the apartment meets your needs and lifestyle.
14. What is the policy on renewing the lease after the initial term?
By asking about a lease renewal, you can assess whether the apartment is suitable for your long-term needs. Most apartments will send out renewal offers months before your lease terms, giving you time to decide if renewing your lease is the best fit for your future living needs.
15. How secure is the building? Are there security measures in place?
Peace of mind is important. It’s a good idea to ask about the security measures the building and apartment staff are taking as well as apartment-friendly security measures renters can take, like installing a doorbell camera. Some apartments will even have security guards for late hours that you can contact in case of an emergency.
16. Are there any decoration restrictions like painting the walls or hanging artwork?
The goal of this question is to ensure you get your security deposit back as well as evade additional charges when moving out. Most rental agreements have specific terms and conditions regarding modifications to the property space or apartment. By knowing your restrictions, you can decorate in a damage-free way.
17. What is the policy on rent increases? How often do they occur and by how much?
Depending on the area you’re living in, rent increases can range from small to large increases. Normally, residents will see rent increases when renewal offers are given to residents. You’ll typically have a few months to decide and calculate your budget or negotiate the increase. Landlords may have different rent increase schedules, so asking before you’re contractually obligated is a safe bet.
18. What is the policy on package deliveries?
Typically, residents receive mail and smaller packages in assigned mailboxes or at their doors. More recently, apartments are starting to install package lockers where residents can register a locker for packages. Asking this question helps you know if your packages are protected or the options you have for your mail delivery.
19. Is rent payment online or in-person? Are there any late payment fees or grace periods?
Being familiar with this process helps renters know how they pay and the budget they need to personally make around payments. Grace periods and late fees can vary from one property to another, and being aware of them allows you to understand any flexibility in a worst-case scenario or money you’ll tack on if you pay late.
Asking questions and take note of the answers
By asking these questions during a tour, you can gain a clear understanding of the overall renting experience you would have living in that apartment. This knowledge will help you make an informed decision about the fit of the apartment and ensure a smoother experience during your tenancy.
There are many renting options so finding the right fit for you ensures the best living experience possible. Start your apartment-hunting journey today!