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Apartment Rental Checklist

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Renting an apartment can be a daunting task. There are so many of them out there, and while the pictures you see on the apartment listings website may look amazing, the leasing company or property manager could be trying to make a sow's ear look like a silk purse. That's not to say that most apartment properties aren't well-maintained or reputable, but like everything else online, what you see doesn't always square with what you get. But how can you be sure you're getting a great apartment in your price range without spending ages doing your research? Here's a checklist to help you decide whether the apartments you're considering are right for you and your family!

Location, location, location

This real estate adage should always be your first consideration when leasing an apartment. Is it close to the places and services you and your family need? Are hospitals, shopping, school, and work all within a reasonable distance? Too many people find a place at a price that looks great, until they realize that the logistics of getting to the places they need to be when they need to be there creates unnecessary difficulties. Another question is the safety of the neighborhood. Are you in a place you can feel safe about letting your kids play outside, or do you need to worry more than usual about someone trying to break into your home? Can you see yourself living there in nine months or a year?

What does your family need?

Do you live alone, or do you have a larger family? Will a one-bedroom studio apartment suffice, or do you need to restrict your search to two or three-bedroom apartments? If you have pets, you'll need to consider pet deposits. Some apartment complexes are pet-friendly, requiring a minimal if any pet deposit, while some may not allow pets at all or make it very expensive to keep one. Having an idea of what you're looking for can help you narrow down apartment listings that don't match the unique needs of your family.

Safety and security

Today safety is the watchword for just about every field of endeavor, and leasing an apartment is no different! You should check to see what kind of security features the apartment complex offers, such as gated entry, security personnel, specialized locks on the doors, bars on the windows, etc. How well lit are the entries to your apartment and the parking lot? Is an alarm system in place, and does the apartment have an intercom or buzzer system to deter unauthorized entry?

You should also look at the safety systems in the apartment. Do they offer a carbon monoxide or smoke detector, and are these working? If you need to get out in case of a fire or other emergency, are you able to bypass any security systems that are in place, such as window bars?

Kitchen and Bathroom

You should always request a walk through of any apartment unit you're considering leasing, and make sure you notify the landlord or management company of any problems you find during the tour. The kitchen and bathroom are particularly important because if these leak, they can not only be a safety issue, but if you know about a problem and don't report it, some places will make you accept liability for any damages.

Things to check include the fixtures and seals on the sinks, faucets, toilets, and bathtub or shower. If they leak, drip, or don't seal correctly, make sure it's noted on the walk through form. If there's evidence of water damage under sinks, note that as well. Check the ceilings and see if they show signs of leakage or water damage. Anywhere there's discoloration, mold, or obvious damage needs to be marked down so there's a written record and you don't find yourself taking liability for someone else's problem.

Appliances and Electrical

Bring a small plug-in alarm clock with you to test the outlets in each room and make sure they're working properly. Try the wall switches. If you find a switch that doesn't appear to do anything, ask what it's connected to and why it's there. Try the appliances and make sure they all work the way they're supposed to. The walk through is the time to make a note of any problems you find, so they can be taken care of before you move in.

Renting an apartment doesn't need to be a hassle, but it does require some diligence on your part. A great price doesn't mean much if the apartment you settle on doesn't meet your needs, and narrowing down your search takes patience and time. For more information on choosing the right apartment for you, or to see apartment listings and units for rent in your area, visit today!

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