Tips for renters on the lookout
Looking for an apartment is downright stressful. If you are running out of time, the anxiety doubles. You’ve checked out a few places and nothing seems right. Maybe one seems kind of dangerous, or another too loud, or worse they offer only hard-to-get street parking. So you keep looking. It’s a difficult task, there’s no two ways about it. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to simplify your endeavor. It’s just a matter of focus, prioritizing, organizing and being smart. Let’s explore a few tips designed to help…
First you want to simplify your quest. If location is a limited option (say, within 20 miles of specific vicinity), select a certain neighborhood (or two) in which to search. Make your selections based on the area’s appeal to you. Perhaps there a cool café you like to frequent, or your sister lives nearby… weigh the advantages. Are the rents in the area reasonable? Do you have decent access to parking or public transportation? By focusing on a certain radius you will be able to look at a variety of places more efficiently. And if it’s a neighborhood entirely new to you, what better way to become acquainted than to actually cover ground in it?
It goes without saying that you are working with a top priority in mind. For most people it’s to be within the shortest distance from work as possible. But what else is important? It helps to factor in one or two other concerns that could influence a decision. For instance, your budget is a good one. You want to be as comfortable as possible after paying the rent each month. Maybe you need your own washer and dryer because you’ve just had one too many bad experiences at the laundromat. Make a list of these considerations and narrow them down by order of importance.
Next, create a spreadsheet of sorts that tracks the listings you’ve checked out and details the important attributes (price, location, etc…). This way you can visit a number of places and manage to avoid confusion by being clear of what was where.
When meeting a contact, be mindful not to be a pushover. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of a place that you are thinking looks great. Ask questions. Why? You want to avoid hidden costs. Y’know, the ones they aren’t entirely upfront about. First, are utilities included? Is there a fee for parking or other amenities? Do lines need to be installed for cable? Know before you go.
Don’t forget the smell test. Is your nose sending you red flags? Figure it out on your initial visit; you don’t want to deal with a foul odor that only gets worse. And what do you hear? If you are easily rattled or have trouble getting to sleep, you might want to know if there are loud kids in the apartments next to you, or a deaf neighbor who blasts their TV just beyond the bedroom wall. It doesn’t hurt to ask about such things.
Also, don’t hesitate to check out what kind of storage space the flat accommodates. Open the closets and drawers and inspect them. And protect yourself against surprises, go ahead and run the shower, the bathroom sinks, even flush the toilets. Better safe than sorry. Look around, inspect for mold or insect infestation. You’re just being smart, better to learn of any concerns now than after you’ve moved in.
You know what’s crazy? In this day and age there are still landlords that rely mostly on a little sign in front of the residence to advertise the vacancy. Besides that, they have no other desire to tout it beyond maybe a small notice at the nearby cafe. Maybe they just prefer someone local, who knows? But don’t be afraid to walk around the streets of areas you like to see if anything like this pops up. You never know.
Of course the key to successfully securing your preferred apartment is preparation. You know you’ll need to complete an application, have a deposit ready, or even sign a lease if you happen to feel it’s right. Have all info ready (from employment to rental history), and of course, bring your checkbook. A copy of your credit report will certainly be appreciated. They’ll run their own, naturally, but a good report that matches what you brought speaks well of your honesty.
If you have good to excellent credit that is coupled with a strong rental history, the ball is in your court, really. Try negotiating, if you’re the type of secure tenant they want best they may work with you. At the very least get everything in writing. For instance – the leaky shower they promise to fix. Get it in writing. We’ve all had experiences with landlords who take forever to get around to repairs.
Documenting as much as possible when moving can protect you down the road. From the deposit to pet policies, be sure to have it all spelled out. But the idea is to do your research so you may prevent any adverse issues. Make a new home and enjoy it!