Searching for a new apartment can be stressful. What questions you ask when you go apartment hunting can make the whole experience a lot smoother. The more you know about the property, the more informed your decision to rent will be. Use this guide as a checklist for what you should know about a property before you decide to move in.
Financial Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting
You need to find an apartment that fits your budget. But, there’s more to living expenses than just the rent. If you ask these questions when you’re apartment hunting, you’ll be prepared for every potential fee. This will help you keep your expenses within your budget.
1. How Much Is Rent?
First and foremost, how much does the place cost? Usually, when you’re at a viewing, you’ll already know the asking price. However, the asking price of the rent isn’t set in stone. If you know how to negotiate your rent, you can get an even better price on your dream apartment.
2. How Long Is the Lease For? Can I Renew It?
Usually, a lease will have a fixed term. This depends on the landlord, but it’s often 6 months to a year long. However, you may want to spend even more time at your new apartment. Make sure you clarify how long you can stay, and what the terms of renewing the lease are.
3. How Much Is the Deposit? Is It Refundable?
When you rent an apartment, you’ll most likely have to pay a security deposit. This is the money that your landlord or a third-party agency holds onto in case you break your lease or you cause significant damage to the apartment.
Usually, the deposit is an upfront charge. And knowing how much it is can help you budget your immediate move-in expenses. Luckily, deposits are (typically) refundable.
If you move out at the agreed time, and you don’t cause any damage, you’ll get your money back. Make sure you ask about the terms of your deposit refund before you move in. That way, you’re prepared for what needs to be done, so you can get the full amount back.
4. How Do I Pay Rent?
How you pay your rent matters. Whether you’d like to pay in cash, check, debit, or credit, make sure your landlord accepts that payment. That way, you know how you need to pay them. This will ensure you pay them on time, every time.
5. When Is Rent Due?
It’s best to know when your landlord expects the rent. That way if you have to pay rent every month before your payday, you’ll need to budget really well the entire month. Knowing when to pay your rent will prevent any unwanted surprises (like angry calls or letters) and keep your landlord happy.
6. Are Utilities Included in the Rent?
Utilities are expenses like electricity, water, gas, parking fees, and Wi-Fi. If the rent already includes utilities, that can save you a lot of money and trouble. But if it doesn’t, your cheap apartment in Chicago could end up costing you a lot more than you thought.
If you have a choice between an apartment that costs $1000 with utilities, and an apartment that costs $850 without, it may be worth going for the first one. It all depends on what’s included in the cost.
7. How Much Are Utilities on Average?
Your utilities vary based on what provider you have and how much you use them. But, you can always ask for an average based on the previous tenant’s experience. This can help you budget better and make a decision on which apartment to take.
8. Do You Need Renters Insurance?
Usually, your landlord will have home insurance on the property. But, you may need to get renters insurance to cover repairs and fixes your landlord won’t do. This is one of those questions you should ask when you’re apartment hunting, and not later on.
9. Is There a Penalty for Breaking the Lease?
Life happens. You may need to move sooner than you expect. If this happens, you need to know the terms of breaking your lease. You may need to pay a fine or lose your deposit.
Questions About the Apartment
Not every question you ask when apartment hunting is money-related. When you move, you turn a new place into your home. But as a renter, you’ll need to be careful about the choices you make. Otherwise, you may end up violating terms in your lease.
And that can leave you in trouble…
To stay on your landlord’s good side (and avoid a lot of unpleasantness), be sure to ask these questions before you move into your new apartment.
10. What’s Your Pet Policy?
If you have a furry friend, you need to check if you can bring them. Sometimes, apartment complexes will have a pet fee. You need to be aware of this in your budget as well.
11. What’s Your Guest Policy?
Everybody loves a party. But, your future landlord may have a few issues with guests. Make sure you ask about the guest policy when apartment hunting. (This is especially important if you’re looking to move in with roommates.)
12. What Changes Can I Make to the Apartment?
When you’re making your new apartment into a home, you’re bound to bring your personality to it. Whether it’s changing the furniture or repainting a room, make sure you ask for permission first.
Even if your landlord doesn’t notice the changes you make to your apartment while you’re living there, it can be evident after you move out. And that can cost you your deposit. Be sure to ask questions before drilling into walls, removing any fixtures, or getting rid of any furniture/accessories (if your apartment is furnished).
This will go a long way to ensuring you get your deposit back when you move out.
13. What Are the Options for Parking?
If you have a car, knowing where you can park it is crucial. Some apartments come with a parking garage, others have a designated parking spot. Occasionally, you’ll also have to pay for a parking permit. Either way, it’s best to know this information before you commit to a lease.
Emergency and Security Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting
Health and safety first. Knowing the answers to these questions when you’re apartment hunting can help you decide on which place you should take.
14. Who Is Responsible For Repairs?
Make sure you agree with your landlord about the responsibilities of repair. And put it in writing. Usually, your landlord will fix anything that is a wear-and-tear issue or non-emergency issue. But, you’ll be liable for anything you break or damage. You’ll have to repair or replace it yourself.
15. How Do You Handle Emergency Repairs?
Your sink broke, your pipe burst, or the heating stopped working. What do you do in this situation? Do you call the landlord? Or do they have a third-party agency to repair that for you? Know what you need to do in case of an emergency. That way you can react quickly and avoid being liable for damages.
16. How Secure Is the Property?
Security is very important. Know how safe the neighborhood is. And you should how your apartment ensures security. A double lock, a burglar alarm, or a security guard are great options to make you feel safe in your own home.
17. Where Is the Fire Extinguisher Located?
Accidents happen. Before you burn down the house with the pizza rolls you left in the oven for too long, ask where the fire extinguishers are. This will keep you (and your stuff) safe when living in your new apartment.
18. Where Are the Emergency Exits?
This is what happens when your neighbor doesn’t know where his fire extinguishers are…
Knowing the best emergency exit routes out of your building is crucial for your safety. That way, you can safely leave if there’s an emergency or drill. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing what to do in the unlikely chance of an emergency.
How to Move Into Your New Chicago Apartment (Hassle Free)
Moving is stressful. But if you know what questions to ask when you’re apartment hunting, you can make your life a lot easier. Otherwise, you risk unwanted surprises and getting stuck living in a place that sours quickly after you move in.
If you’re looking for a new apartment in Chicago, why not check out the latest listings on Brixbid? Our apartment hunting platform doesn’t just give you amazing choices to find your future home, it also lets you negotiate your rent.
Ready for a hassle-free way to find your new Chicago home? Search for your dream apartment using Brixbid today!