When you see nice apartments for rent, and then find out they're in your price range, you may jump right into signing a lease. But wait! There are certain things that many first-time renters forget to check out about the apartment or the lease before making the move official. You'll be a much a happier renter if you know what your getting into, so you're not stuck in an apartment you hate.
1: Make Sure Things Work
You don't want to move into your apartment and find out that some of the electrical outlets don't work, or the toilet runs or has flushing problems. So, you want to walk around the apartment and check these things out. Bring something small to plug into outlets to check them, flush the toilet, turn on the faucets and check the water pressure, turn on the heat and air conditioning to make sure they work.
You should also open and close any drawers, cabinets, closets, door and windows to make sure they open properly and do not get stuck or go off track. Discuss your renter's rights with the landlord, so you know if he or she will fix the minor problems you find. If not, you may want to move on, not in.
2: Ask About Redecorating
If you like the apartment, but not the color of the walls or the window treatments, ask if you can make changes to the decor. Some landlords won't care if you make changes as long as you don't cause any damage and avoid using outrageous colors on the walls that are difficult to paint over. However, others may take care of the painting and want it to remain just as is. If this is the case, do you want to live in apartment you can't make reflect your personal tastes? If not, you may as well keep looking.
If you do not ask, and redecorate without permission, you may lose your deposit when your lease is up and you choose to move out. Make sure you get any permission to redecorate in writing, so there is no confusion later.
3: Ask About Pets
Even if you don't have a pet at the time, you may decide to get one later. So, do ask about the pet policy. Some landlords may allow only small pets only, no exotic pets or none at all, so it pays to know this if you are signing a lease for more than a year.
First-timer renters need to remember that a lease is a legal document, and once it is signed, there is very little they can do legally to get out it. So, it's best to thoroughly check out a place, take your time when making a decision, and if possible, talk to some of the neighbors to get a feel for the neighborhood.