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Apartment questions
cirienphoenix at 10:21PM, July 15, 2009
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I'm thinking about finally moving into my own apartment in a couple of months. I've found a great place (a townhouse actually) with 3 bedrooms/1 bathroom for cheap (it's a rural-ish crappy area that I've grown up right next to and is pretty far from any cities). My younger brother and his girlfriend want a place, too.

We're all thinking about moving in together and using the third bedroom as an art student since her and I are both artists and she is still going to college, and I just got out of college. It's got a regular kitchen, living room, utility closet, etc… Cost per month is rent plus electric.

My thought is… what are some questions we should be asking when we go and view the place?

None of us have ever rented before, and my brother and I have never even lived in a rental in all our lives.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:42AM
Lonnehart at 10:42PM, July 15, 2009
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I've never lived in an apartment, but I imagine some of the things you should look for are the same for when you're in a house; bad plumbing, bad electrical work (if there's any sparking from wires and such, don't rent from that building), make sure you can secure the window properly and that it is very secure (to keep out burglars, determined racoons and brown tree snakes), and hope that it's furnished (so you don't have to buy furniture). That's all the advice I can give as I've lived in houses all my life (though if I had the money I could probably fix it up and rent out the extra rooms as I'm living alone). :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
humorman at 1:43AM, July 16, 2009
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Ask for having no down payment, because not only will most landlords ask for down payment, but they'll also demand rent every month. In these economic times, the last you need to do is to pay extra money for a place you'll burn down for the insurance money anyways. Also, try to avoid paying rent as much as possible. If the landlord gets on your case about this, tell him he's committing a hate crime for harassing a financially challenged person(you, you are the financially challenged person). This usually works, sometimes.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:51PM
ifelldownthestairs at 2:56AM, July 16, 2009
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Yeah, what Lonnehart said.. when you look it's best to look at everything inside the apartment: look inside closets, cupboards, underneath sinks, all that good stuff to make sure nothing's out of order. Look in the toilet. Use the toilet, then look in it again, this is CRUCIAL. Seriously though, it's a good indication of how well their maintenance folks work.

When you look at a place I would suggest walking around the complex to try and get a feel for it. Usually you'll be able to see a tenant walking to get mail or to the pool or something, stop them and ask how they like the building.

I wouldn't vouche for a furnished place… those places rape you when you move out for cleaning costs.

Always look around the complex though; the first time I moved into an apartment, one of the places my friend and I looked at seemed awesome; two story townhouse, two bedrooms, huge living room and a bathroom on each floor. Then on the way back to my car, we saw a bunch of MEXICANS around some guy with a cart making these weird noises. Needless to say, we were so disgusted we never went back.

Well, if you replace “mexicans” with “seedy looking gang banging types staring us down”, and ignore the cart guy, that really did happen. If anything spooks you or sets you off, DON'T DO IT. There are plenty of places to move into.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:56PM
BffSatan at 3:20AM, July 16, 2009
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Ask if it is haunted, but you should ask this regardless of if it's a rental or not.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:21AM
skoolmunkee at 3:53AM, July 16, 2009
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Everything should look clean- the carpets should look like they've been steam cleaned and the paint/walls should not be stained or discolored. I say this because these places will ALWAYS take money out of your deposit for cleaning costs, and if it doesn't look clean when you get it, it's likely that they're doing things like taking the money and not cleaning it.

There should be no funny smells, dripping faucets, etc. Windows and doors should close and lock securely. check inside cabinets for stains, bugs (or bug traps), mouse poop. (Pull out the fridge and stuff a bit if they'll let you.) Run some of the taps to see how well they drain and flush the toilet. Ask them if any pet owners lived there before you (ie are you likely to have animal pee in your carpets). Check the floor/carpets in corners and inside closets for funny stains or possibly mold depending on the room.

Look at the walls and ceiling- do they seem sturdy or are the walls flimsy and/or hollow? Does the ceiling have cracks in it? Open, close, and lock all the doors. Do any of them hang funny, not lock when shut, etc?

Some damage is ok- it's wear and tear after all, the place should be presentable but it won't be perfect. The landlord should agree to do a damage inspection before moving in though, where you (or both of you) go through the house and mark down everything that isn't perfect. Places where carpet is loose, damage to doorways, etc… take pictures if possible. It may seem excessive but you don't want to be charged for damage that was there when you moved in.

If 3 people are going to be living there, get 3 people listed on the lease (and pay rent 3 ways, even though 2 of them are only using 1 room), or else if something goes bad one of you is going to be stuck with someone else's share.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
lastcall at 4:34AM, July 16, 2009
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It would be wise to ask what kind of utilities are included in the rent, if any: water, electric, gas, trash, etc. If none of these are included, you're looking at a couple hundred extra a month, if not more.

It's always good to ask how much the deposit is, and how much of it you will get back when you move out. If the deposit is only about 100 bucks or so, might as well not even clean the place when you move out and sacrifice the 100 bucks. If the deposit is $1,000, then it would be worth cleaning it up when you move so you can get that money back.

Having a good, trusting landlord is key. If the landlord doesn't care about anything, then he won't care about things needing fixed in your apartment. I hear that it's illegal for a landlord not to fix things when you ask, but I have come across landlords who simply won't fix things, especially when your lease is about to expire.

Also, regarding your lease: is it month-to-month, or yearly? Month-to-month is better, in my opinion, because then if things come up and you have to move out the next month, you actually can. You can't really do that if tied up in a yearly lease.

Having good neighbors is always a good thing to find out. Are they older, mature people who keep quiet, or are they loud, inconsiderate jerk-offs who party 24-7? If pets are allowed, what kinds of pets do your neighbors have? Quiet cats, or loud dogs who bark non-stop?

It's also good to have trustworthy roommates. Can you trust them to always come through on their part of the bills, or will they suddenly skip out on you and leave you responsible to pay for everything?

Also keep in mind that some landlords require monthly inspections of your apartment. Some people don't like this, but I think it shows that the landlord cares about the place, which is always good.

How secure is the area? If it's in a crappy part of town and there aren't very good locks on the doors, it would be wise to get renter's insurance. That way, if someone broke in and stole your valuables, or if the apartment caught on fire, you will be covered.

Lastly, just because a place has “character,” doesn't mean it's a good place to live in. The newer the apartment, the better. I lived in an old apartment from the 1950s and the hardwood floors and such were charming, but I soon learned that the apartment required expensive maintenance because it was so old.

One more thing: If you do decide to move into an apartment, it's always a good idea to take photos of the interior right before you move all the furniture in. That way, when you finally move out and the landlord won't give you back your deposit because there is a big stain on the floor, you can shove a photo in his face and say “that stain has been there since I moved in.” ;)

Hope this helps. Good luck! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:28PM
cirienphoenix at 10:13AM, July 16, 2009
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Oh wow! Thanks everyone for the suggestions! A lot of this was stuff I hadn't thought about.

Yeah, my brother and I are hopefully going to just do a quick look at one of those apartments tomorrow. We wouldn't actually be getting an apartment until September, but we want to know our options. The biggest reason we're considering the apartment I'm talking about is that it's LITERALLY across the street from where I'm working, so I won't have to drive to work. At most it would be a ten minute walk. So I'd never had to rely on my car, so gas money might only be about 4 bucks a week for getting groceries and stuff.

Plus, for those commenting on the safety issues of the place, I've been told it's mostly old people and college students. And the town we'd be in is about as dangerous as a slice of pie.

Also, BffSatan, if it were haunted (in a spooky way, but not a polgtergeist-throwing-things-way), then that would be so badass! :D

But thank you EVERYONE for the suggestions! :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:42AM
lba at 1:33PM, July 19, 2009
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Nobody mentioned this yet, but if there is anything wrong with the place and you do decide to take it anyway, DO NOT OFFER TO FIX IT YOURSELF. Not even for half the rent off for the whole lease. Make them either hire a competent professional before you move in, or get a written assurance that they will be covering the bill if they make you find the repairman yourself on top of taking photos.

The last place I had didn't have covers over the wall sockets and I got sick of looking at them bare, and I agreed to fix it myself for $100 off my month's rent. When I went to move out of the place they tried to refuse to return my $750 deposit because the contract said I had to return the apartment in the state I got it and they didn't have proof of the agreement to fix it. The thing that saved me was that I had dated photos of the bare sockets from the day I moved in. I ended up going back, removing the covers and waving the photos in their face.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM

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