Looking for a new apartment? It can be exhausting. Where to start, how to select, is this the best price and the best location? Using a good Apartment Locator Service can ease the worry and stress of finding a new place. There is more you can do in addition to the locator. Here are my five top tips to consider:
1. Heating/Cooling of your unit – No one wants to pay high utility bills and there is no way to tell what your bills will be after you move in – right? Not quite. You can make some initial checks to ensure your apartment will be as energy efficient as possible.
a. Check the outside A/C unit that feeds into your apartment. Is it in good condition? How old is the unit? Does it look like it is on it’s last leg? Ask the manager how long it has been since the maintenance man serviced the unit.
b. What is below you if moving to a 2nd or 3rd floor? If you have another tennant – their own use could help your unit. If you have open space beneath you such as an un-insulated garage or storage space – that will make for a very hot summer or a very cold winter.
2. Security Gates – Are the gates functioning? How long does it take for the gate to open and close? Would it be a sufficient deterrent to keep people out that do not belong or just a pretty sight? Ask the manager how many repair calls he/she has to make monthly on the gate. Of course…if someone wants to break into a place – they will find a way!
3. Fine Print – Make sure you read the “fine print” in your rental contract. Some contracts will state that you could lose your deposit or any admin fees if you do not disclose everything in regards to your past credit/personal history. What if you have rental debt that you did not know about but shows up on your credit check? If the property does not work with rental debt – you could lose your money. It’s always better to be honest and upfront than to not list your previous information.
4. Management Company/Staff – Ask questions about the management company. How long have they owned/managed the property you are considering. How long has the manager been at that property – the leasing agents as well? Don’t be afraid to knock on doors of current residents to ask them if they are happy living there. Apartment review sites are only as good as the people making the recommendations. How do you know they are from trustworthy sources? You don’t really. Ask the staff and current residents. You will get a better response that way.
5. Negotiate – Apartment complexes have such fierce competition with other apartment complexes that they will offer incentives, discounts and move-in specials to get your business. Ask if they have a “Preferred Employer List” and see if the company you work for is on that list. That will give you a percentage off of your monthly rate. Ask if they can offer a “move-in special”. They just might give it to you even if they are not currently running a special.