Assuming you already know your budget and have some idea of what you would like to have in your apartment, here are some ideas on narrowing things down and making sure you get what you need, deserve and will enjoy.
The Good, Bad, And Ugly
You never truly know someone until you live with them, even if they're just a neighbor you may find out far more than you ever wanted to know about them. I recommend becoming a bit of a detective to determine if there are any bad or even dangerous neighbors who make your potential home, their home. Do your due diligence when looking for a place to meet your needs so that your home doesn't become a place you actively avoid. Horror stories are plentiful when this item is skipped. Some end up breaking their leases, costing them a lot of money, while others may wait it out to the end of their leases and then move.
You may find out how some of your potential neighbors conduct themselves only with multiple visits. Sometimes, this simply cannot be done from just a single visit during traditional business hours. For instance, a few of the more outrageous neighbors and visitors may be away or sleeping during during the day of your lone visit. Visiting at different times allows you multiple chances to see or meet those you would most likely be neighbors with. We all have gut instincts, use yours to help you find a place you will be happy with. You will have a better chance to find out if the neighbors are generally good or if there are truly any truly bad neighbors when you make the effort to do your own tours after dark and on weekends during the day and night. If your instincts tell you to avoid going to the neighborhood after dark, that is the biggest red flag for you to look elsewhere.
Lots Of Light
Another thing to check is the crime level in the area. This is very easy to and doesn't cost anything. You can look only, talk to friends, colleagues, or family to get their opinions about areas that will be safe and within your price range. If you are looking for the absolute lowest price, beware that unfortunately, you may get what you pay for in terms of safety. You may be able to protect yourself by changing your behavior and investing in things like security cameras, pepper spray, etc. It is very important to visit any potential rental (or home) at different times of the day. Avoid touring the place only during traditional workday hours and deciding with only a single visit to move in. Many have made this mistake and suffered for it. Some may even find that they and their children are in very close proximity, next door to, or across the street from child sex offenders or that a new neighbor is a freshly released violent felon. If these types of people don't cause you any concern, great, but if they do, checking the crime statistics in the area and asking about your potential neighbors may head off a stressful mistake for you.
Small But Useful
Is the property well maintained or does it look run down or even worse? Aesthetics matter because they give clues as to they type of owner you'll be dealing with. The owners of well maintained properties are far more likely to be responsive to things like maintenance requests and requests for other things than properties that don't have clearly well maintained properties. Are there dirty walls in common areas or litter decorating the grounds? Does the trash compactor work or are there piles of debris around it or any dumpsters? Are any assigned parking spaces clearly marked to avoid confusion? When they are not, you can count on others taking your assigned parking space, maybe even after the absolute longest & worst day at work when all you want to do is relax. Overgrown grass, signs of water damage, signs of pests, trash, immobile vehicles, etc. are just some of the many signs that the property owner likes to let things slide and quite often they will let things slide when you need them to make things happen. If you need a responsive landlord you should look elsewhere if you see signs of a lack of maintenance or outright lack of care for the property. Otherwise, you may be in for some headaches.
Do Your Due Diligence
Are Amenities Are Necessities?
Amenities may be unnecessary extras in one renters mind and absolute necessities in another renter's mind. Each property you visit will have noticeable differences in the existence and variety of amenities whether it's owned by a large corporation, a mom and pop, or something in between. For example, some rentals may have no amenities other than the roof over your head whereas others may have garages, playgrounds, resident activities, walking trails, outdoor grills and televisions, soothing fountains or even butterfly gardens. Having the convenience of a 24-hour gym onsite can give you more exercise options without the additional cost of joining a gym. Many luxury properties have free tea, coffee, yoga and/or spin studios, swimming pools, etc. Some may offer options such as garages, extra parking spaces and private storage at an additional cost but some luxury properties may include things like these in the cost of rent. Other amenities that you may later decide are a necessity can include the property being securely gated, having your garbage picked up for you at your door, having a dog walker at no additional charge to you, having your packages delivered securely whether at an office or in your own storage unit near your door or even having the office facilitate your furniture delivery in your home.
Home Sweet Home
Plan For A Smooth Exit From The Start
This one is important but quite often overlooked. Most renters will not stay in the same place for their entire lives, needs and jobs change and people will tend to move at some point. Be certain to take photos or video of the condition of your rental when you get the keys. Document the condition of everything because you never know what may be used against you to chip away at your deposit or keep it all. Open closets, cabinet and oven doors and take photos or video. Do the same for all appliances and the various systems, such as HVAC, that you may have access to. There are some landlords who will let trash pile up on the property but will deduct money from any deposit you may have made if you leave so much as a crumb in the refrigerator. If you have pets, the bad news is that it is common for landlords to demand that you pay at least a portion of the cost to replace carpeting even if you don't think it is damaged or soiled. Typically, negotiating is possible but it is not a guarantee that if you have a pet, you won't end up paying for at least a cleaning if not part or all of the replacement. However, if you have a pet or multiple pets, you will fare far better if you run a robot vacuum several times a week or even everyday and promptly clean any accidents. If the owner wants your deposit or any portion of it whether you have pets or not, be sure to provide the photos from your move in to help prove your case.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 H C Palting