Our leasing agents and property managers field hundreds of questions every day from prospective and current residents. We’ve rounded up a few of the questions along with their answers.
- Will I get my security deposit back? As long as you leave the apartment clean and damage free, yes. Your landlord will give you their specific move-out procedures when you move. If you don’t receive anything in writing, ask for it. The most common expectations are that you remove all of your belongings, clean everything thoroughly, shampoo the carpet, and don’t leave behind any damage such as torn carpet, holes in the walls, broken windows, etc. One last thing your landlord will need in order to return your security deposit: your forwarding address.
- Can I paint/put up wallpaper? The policies on changes to rental units vary, but to stay on the safe side, assume that no, you can’t paint, put up wallpaper, or make other changes to the property—at least not without permission. You just have to be prepared that if something goes wrong with your massaging shower head, maintenance won’t repair it because it’s yours and not original to the unit. Plus, when the time comes for you to move out, you’ll probably have to change everything back to how it was when you first moved in or your security deposit will suffer.
- How much are utilities? For any utilities that aren’t included in rent, your leasing agent or property manager will only be able to give you an estimate. For example, at Alvern Gardens, all utilities except electric are included in rent. In the apartments, the only things that use electricity are the lights, refrigerator, and whatever a resident plugs in. The average resident’s monthly electric bill is about $30. For cable, internet, and phone prices, it’s best to ask the leasing agent who the provider is and then contact the provider for exact pricing.
- Do you allow pets? Most properties that welcome pets advertise this proudly,especially if they’re dog friendly or even have a dog park. If an ad doesn’t clearly state the pet policy, always ask for details. Some properties have weight restrictions on dogs while others have breed restrictions. Most properties have a limit on the number of pets allowed per apartment. If you’re looking for a pet friendly apartment, it’s a good idea to lead with questions about a property’s pet policy when you make your inquiry, as these rules are often a deal breaker. For example, a property might welcome up to 4 cats, but if they require cats to be declawed and that’s against your ethos as a pet owner, you might as well keep looking for a more humane property.
- Where are you located/are you close to_________? Location is crucial when you’re looking for a new home, and it might even be the very reason you’re searching in the first place. Before you decide to contact a property, consult Google Maps to figure out your potential work commute; find nearby grocery stores, restaurants, shops, etc.; find nearby public transportation; and even learn what school district the property is in. Leasing agents will do their best to answer your location questions when you talk to them, but it’s always a good idea to do some exploring of your own, both online and in the neighborhood itself to make sure the place is what you’re looking for.
- What is involved in the application process? Many, probably most, rental properties require applicants to meet certain requirement before allowing them to sign a lease. Landlords and management companies require applications because they want to make sure they enter into a contract with responsible renters who will adhere to that contract for its duration. Once you know what requirements a landlord looks for, it’s up to you to decide whether you’d qualify and if it’s worth your time and money to apply. But don’t be daunted by the process. Oftentimes, credit issues or income that’s not quite up to par with the requirements can be mitigated with a co-signer.