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15 Things to Look for When Renting an Apartment
Real Estate

15 Things to Look for When Renting an Apartment

Whether you’re moving down the street or across the state, finding the right place can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking.


6 min read

June 21, 2021

Asking the right questions is the first step in finding the apartment of your dreams. Don’t believe us? Any real estate agent will tell you the same thing. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the state, finding the right place can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. But with a bit of prep and the useful tips we’ve got in store for you, you’ll be ready to fall in love with your new space. Narrow down your top choices and get face-to-face (or should we say wall-to-wall) with your new home—here are the things to look for when renting an apartment. 

What to Look for When Renting an Apartment

Is it worth moving to a new apartment if you're not going to be able to talk on the phone with your friends about your place? We think not.

1. Good Cell Phone Reception

Think about how important your phone is to you—it’s probably in your hand right now. Now imagine barely using it due to bad reception at your new place. That’s a major red flag. As you’re figuring out what to look for in an apartment, having your phone with you can actually help narrow down the search. When you’re checking out the place, make sure to use your phone and make calls from different rooms and areas. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to ask about the Wifi situation either.

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2. No Pests

Human beings are not the only ones who like calling apartments home. Bugs and rodents often manage to find their way in, becoming a nuisance many would like to know about before renting a place. The best way to check for pests is to look inside or on top of the cabinets. Don’t hesitate to inspect the walls and baseboards for any large cracks or holes either. And if you’re still not completely satisfied, you can always ask the landlord to see copies of the most recent pest control treatments to the apartment or building.

You have great city views, a comfy bedroom, and a full kitchen, but are you going to be able to take long showers?

3. Water Pressure and Temperature that Suits Your Needs 

While usually flying under the radar, good water pressure and temperature should be on top of your “what to look for when viewing an apartment” list. There’s nothing worse than a shower where the water’s too hard or too gentle, so don’t skip this essential detail. We’re not suggesting you take a shower during your tour, but you can always test the pressure and temperature on your hand to make sure it’s suitable to your liking.

4. Working Power Outlets 

Many things we use daily require a power outlet—phone chargers, TVs, coffee machines, kitchen appliances, and many more. A working power outlet is crucial when you’re looking for an apartment, so make sure to bring something small to plug into every outlet and ensure that it’s working. Also, test the lights throughout the apartment to check if they correctly turn on and off.

You really like that fridge and oven? Guess what, they don't actually work and you have to get a new one. We'll pass, thank you very much.

5. Appliances

Just like you would with power outlets and electrical work, testing out home appliances is always a good idea. Things like stoves, dishwashers, ovens, and fridges are amenities we need and use daily—all the more reason to take your time with the inspection. Test out each appliance thoroughly to guarantee that everything is working.

What to Look for When Apartment Hunting Online 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Make a list before viewing the house and you won't have to wonder later.

6. Know What You’re Looking For

While online browsing should make your search more convenient—you can literally do it from your couch as you sip on a cup of hot cocoa—it’s not exactly magic. You still need to have an outline of what you’re looking for. Here are a few questions to consider while looking for apartments online:

  • Am I comfortable sharing an apartment with a roommate or do I want to live alone?
  • If I live alone, should I rent a studio or a one-bedroom apartment?
  • Do I really need more than one bathroom in my apartment?
  • Does it matter which floor I’m on?
  • Will I be able to save money and live in this apartment?

7. Utilize Mapping Features 

The great thing about online apartment hunting is that you can use the address data to get a visual of where exactly your building is on a map. This can be especially helpful for when you’re new to the area, searching for a place near your workplace, or prefer close proximity to where your children go to school.

Luckily, many apartment-searching websites automatically map the addresses for you. For instance, let’s say that you’ve selected 16 apartments around the same neighborhood and you’re looking for the one closest to the metro. The website will then plot them all on a single map so that you can see where they are in relation to each other and your desired location.

The last thing you need is getting scammed. Trust your gut and you won't be complaining when you don't find any hot singles in your area.

8. Beware of Scams 

Scams are probably the most important thing to look out for when renting an apartment online. Don’t let the ease or fun of online browsing cause you to lower your guard. And just because you’re using a reputable website doesn’t fully secure you from this risk either. There are deceitful landlords or people posing as landlords, who get their listings onto these sites. If something feels off—whether it be with the application process or the whole thing seeming too good to be true—it may be wise not to pursue the listing.

What to Look for When Touring an Apartment in Person

Before you get all excited, can you actually afford to move to the new apartment? Clarify all the details so you're not surprised after.

9. How Much It Costs to Move In

Wondering what to ask when looking at apartments? How about skipping to the end and clarifying how much it’ll cost you to actually move in? If there’s one thing we know about real estate regulations in California, it’s that each property is handled completely differently. Every so often, you’re expected to pay first and last months’ rent upfront, or hand in a security deposit—there might even be elevator fees. 

10. How Emergency Repairs Are Handled

Even if everything appears to be working perfectly, make sure to check how emergency maintenance is handled. Is it available 24/7? How quickly do they typically respond? It’s one of the most important things to look for in an apartment—no one wants to be stuck in an apartment with a broken heater in January. 

Trust us when we tell you it's not worth hiding your dog for months in an apartment that has a no-pet policy. It's best to keep looking.

11. Pet Policy

Whether you’re a pet owner or thinking of adopting, you should absolutely ask about the pet policy. If pets aren’t allowed at all, it’s best to just move on—hiding a pet can prove very costly in the long run. If pets are allowed, ask about the possible deposits and fees. While they vary depending on where in California you’re renting, pet policies are usually a non-refundable deposit that covers deep cleaning or any damage caused by your furry friend.

12. Parking Situation

Do you own a car? If yes, then parking should be high on your priority list. For many, renting an apartment and acquiring a parking space may go hand in hand, but in some neighborhoods—especially in larger cities—street parking can be costly and hard to find; you might need to rent an apartment with a parking garage or lot. A personal parking spot or pass is often an added charge, so this is definitely what you should look out for when apartment hunting.

What to Ask When Looking at an Apartment 

Moving to a new apartment may seem exciting at first, but that can quickly fade away and you start seeing your place from another perspective.

13. What’s it Like Living Here?

When you’re touring and manage to run into a potential neighbor, it’s always a good plan to talk to them. They’re well past the “honeymoon” stage and have been living there for a while, so they’re well aware of the pros and cons of the area. Ask them about any concerns they have, things they’d recommend doing, and enquire further details about the landlord.

Safety is one of the most important things to keep in mind when moving to a new place. It's not worth living in a neighborhood where you're not safe.

14. What’s the Area Like at Night?

A neighborhood can transform when dawn turns to dusk, so this is definitely worth checking out. The palace you’re looking for can be bright, calm, and cozy during the day but turn dark, noisy, and chaotic by the time night rolls around. While you’re not likely to actually tour the apartment at night, exploring the neighborhood is a good way to get an overall feel of the area.

15. What’s Included?

Very often, houses are staged in specific ways to quickly attract renters. One of the most important questions to ask during a house viewing is if any furniture or appliances come with the place. Avoiding this question may result in finding a gaping hole in the kitchen where the fridge used to sit—you’ve been warned.

What’s the first thing you ask when looking for an apartment? Let us know in the comments below. 

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