When you finally find what you think might be the perfect apartment, asking too many questions can seem like tempting fate. If it feels right and its affordable then surely you can just cross your fingers and trust the rest to luck?
Wrong. This is why becoming too emotionally involved in the search for an apartment can be a fatal error. The questions you don’t ask now will be the ones which come back to haunt you one or two months down the line. By then, of course, you’ll be trapped in the lease you signed and counting down the time until you can start searching for an apartment all over again – and just think how much fun that will be. The key is not to be embarrassed to ask too many questions and never think that a question might be ‘stupid’. If it’s something you want to ask then, by definition, it’s a perfectly valid question. The questions will vary from apartment to apartment and depending upon your individual concerns, but these are just a few of those which you should really think about asking:
Will you need a guarantor?
Most landlords demand a certain income level when renting out an apartment, and many run credit checks. It may well be that you won’t pass a credit check, even if the debt in question dates from several years ago. In cases such as this, many landlords will ask for a guarantor to sign your lease, which means that they will be responsible in the event of you failing to maintain your rent payments. For many people, the natural choice of guarantor is a parent. Ask if you’ll need a guarantor, what the guarantor will have to provide and whether there is a charge involved for running a credit check.
Can you decorate?
Many leases insist that the apartment must be returned to its’ original state when you leave. In some cases, the landlord might insist that you need to have written permission before engaging in any painting or decorating. Make sure you know whether permission of this kind needs to be sought, and what you’ll be risking (generally all or a portion of your deposit), if you fail to reverse any changes you make.
Are you allowed to have guests over to stay? It may seem like the most natural thing in the world to have your mates over to stay in your lovely new apartment, but some landlords do put a limit on the number of guests you can play host to over a period such as a month. You may think you can just sneak them in and out anyway, but is that really how grown-ups live their life?
An obvious question, but the devil is in the detail. Your landlord may allow pets in the apartment, but there’s a chance that this applies only to pets below a certain size. It’s also possible that there might be a pet security deposit included within the other up-front charges listed on the lease. It’s also probably worth asking about visitors bringing pets. Your best friend might have a Yorkshire Terrier – will they both be welcome?
Don’t just see communal spaces such as gardens and laundry rooms and assume you’ll have access. There may be limits depending upon which apartment in a complex you’re renting, or perhaps a charge to gain access. Imagine the frustration of living in an apartment with a communal pool and not being able to afford to take a dip.
There’s a chance that some of the utilities for the apartment are covered by your monthly payment, but make sure exactly which ones this applies to. If heating and lighting are included this doesn’t necessarily mean that charges for water, Wi-Fi provision and any local rates are, for example.
Ask what happens if there’s a maintenance issue in the apartment. Don’t settle for just getting a number to call, make sure you know exactly what help will be available if, for example, the dishwasher floods the kitchen. How is emergency help provided and will there be a charge? If you end up having to arrange repairs on your own behalf, particularly out of hours, then it could leave you considerably out of pocket.
TV and Internet
What kind of TV and internet provision does the apartment have? If you’re not happy with what’s provided, will you be allowed to install your own satellite dish or cable provision? It may seem trivial but you really don’t want to sign away your right to binge-watch box sets for the foreseeable future do you?
Mobile phone reception
Don’t just ask about mobile phone reception, walk from room to room checking how good it is. It may seem like another trivial issue when you think you’ve found your perfect apartment, but you’ll soon tire of having to stand in the hallway perched on a stool very time you need decent reception.
The area in which you live can have a marked impact on how much you pay for car insurance. Check how much your new quote will be and factor this amount into your calculations when you’re deciding if you can afford to make the move.
If you’re going to be moving furniture in then measure your larger items and then measure all the doors and hallways into the apartment. Finding out your much loved leather armchair isn’t going to fit on moving day is going to be more than a little stressful.
Make sure all the power points in the apartment function properly. If they don’t, now is the time to get them fixed, and this could also point to deeper underlying problems. Bring a small appliance such as a lamp or radio with you and plug it in to every outlet.