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Apartment Shopping Tips

So you think you've found the perfect place? Before you sign on the dotted line, it is a good idea to think twice and ask your potential landlord a few good questions and check out a few things. Check the apartment out completely and take notes on any issues for later use.

Make sure you:

  • Check the water pressure and hot water
  • Check if the toilet is working
  • If the apartment is furnished, check the furniture
  • Check the lights, walls and locks
  • Check all appliances
  • Check the emergency exits
  • Check the heat and the fire alarms
  • Check the electrical meter
  • Find out how much the previous tenants paid for utilities. Some apartments are more energy efficient than others.
  • Find out exactly what your deposit will be and what the terms for its return are. Will you have to clean the apartment yourself when you leave? What are the standards of cleanliness?
  • Your landlord is required to place your deposit in an interest-bearing account and you should receive yearly the current rate of interest on the account minus a one-percent service charge. Verify that your landlord understands this.
  • Ask what kind of repairs will be made to the apartment before you move in. Will it be painted? Cleaned? Re-carpeted?
  • Once you check the apartment, discuss repairs with your landlord. All repair issues should be noted on your lease, including any damages, in order to avoid you getting charged for them later or losing your deposit.
  • If your landlord refuses to place repair/damage items on the lease, put them in writing yourself, and send your landlord a copy certified mail and return receipt requested prior to accepting keys.
  • Check with the landlord about subletting
  • Get the landlord's address and phone number
  • Discuss with your landlord how future repairs will be made. Will you call him/her for repairs, or should you contact a repair person yourself? How are emergency maintenance issues handled?
  • Talk with the neighbors about the competency and reputation of the landlord.
  • Don't give the landlord any money before you sign and are positive you want the apartment.