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Planning to Rent an Apartment? Ask These Questions First

There's nothing that defines freedom and independence than renting your own apartment. While you have the responsibility to make monthly rental payments, you are not locked into a long-term mortgage agreement as are homeowners. Apartment living gives you the flexibility of moving whenever you feel it's necessary.

If you need help in obtaining apartment listings, turn to which has information on apartment rentals in your area. The site also provides rental costs to help you determine which apartments are within your price range.

Whether you rent a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartment, you will want to know the total square footage of the unit so that you can decide how much furniture you will need. If that information is not available in the apartment's description, it's worth asking the apartment manager. And while you're asking, here are a few more questions to pose to the apartment management:

* How often will my rent increase? Ask the manager how many times the rent has increased over the past year. If you signed an agreement with a fixed term, such as one or two years, your rent should not increase during that term. It's more than likely that your rent will increase if you renew your fixed-term lease or if you sign a short-term agreement, such as one for six months.

* Can I sublet my apartment? If your job transfers you to another city before your rental agreement expires, you will want to know what to do with your apartment. Having someone to sublet allows you to keep the apartment and have somewhere to return to just in case the job does not work out. However, some rental companies do not allow tenants to sublet. If they do not allow this, then ask what the penalty is for having to move out before your lease expires.

* When are tenants notified that their lease is about to expire? And when it expires, can I sign a month-to-month agreement? Knowing when you are required to vacate your apartment gives you an adequate amount of time to decide whether you will stay for another year or two or look for another place to live.

* Is the apartment furnished with working appliances? Just because you see a stove and a refrigerator does not mean that they work. Turn them on as you’re viewing the apartment. If they don’t work or if there is a lot of wear and tear, ask for new appliances. The same goes for apartments furnished with washers and dryers.

* What type of security measures are in place for tenants? Are their security alarms in each apartment? Next to rent, safety is a primary concern for tenants. Some apartment complexes have professional security patrols or cameras in strategic areas of the property. Ask how close the nearest police department is to the apartments. The manager may want to assure you that all is well, but you should not be satisfied until you have all the details.

* How much storage space will I have? Whether it's a storage locker in the basement or extra space in the apartment, you will need to have an ample amount of space to store your things.

* Are tenants allowed to modify the apartment? While tenants may like the layout of the apartment, they may want to add a personal touch to the place. One way of doing that is adding a fresh coat of paint. Before you start selecting colors, ask the manager if residents are allowed to paint. Some managers allow tenants to paint, but they must paint the walls back to the original color before they move out of the apartment.

* Am I allowed to have a pet? Some apartments ban pets altogether while some will allow tenants to pay extra fees to have them.

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