100+ Questions to Ask Before Renting an Apartment

I've moved a lot in the last 10 years. I've lived in tiny dumps and large "luxury" apartment complexes. Over the years I've encountered a number of problems and surprise amenities. This is my checklist when I am looking for a new place to live. Feel free to send me questions you ask. I'll add them here.

General

  • How much is the rent?
  • Do they need a security deposit? How much?
  • Do they need first month's rent? How about last month's rent?
  • How long is the lease?
  • What is the penalty for terminating the lease early?
  • Is there an application fee? How much?
  • Are utilities included?
  • Can you sublet?
  • Do the people in the rental office seem intelligent / seem like they care?
  • Who does apartment maintenance and how do they handle it? Are they on call 24/7?

The Apartment Building

  • Are the floors wood beam supported or concrete? (bouncy/not bouncy)
  • Central Air? Radiators? Electric Heat? In wall AC? AC at all?
  • Elevator?
  • Smoke alarms?
  • Sprinklers?
  • Alarms tied to Fire Station?
  • Do windows open?
  • Does the roof leak?
  • Are the windows drafty?
  • What condition are the floors in? Is the carpet soft/clean? Is the hardwood splintering?
  • Is there enough closet space?
  • Where will you store your vacuum cleaner?
  • Where will you store your bicycle?
  • Can you have a grill on your balcony?
  • Does the fireplace work?
  • Can you control the heat?
  • Can you have a real Christmas tree?
  • is there a screen door slide on the balcony?
  • Does the slider lock securely?
  • Is there a peep hole on the door?
  • How do you let someone into the building?
  • Can you monitor the front door / lobby from the apartment?
  • Can you paint the walls?
  • Do they allow pets? How about fish tanks? Is there a pet fee?
  • Do they allow water beds?
  • Is there a storage room? How big? How much does it cost?
  • Is there laundry in the building/complex?
  • How and where are UPS/FedEx deliveries left?
  • Will your couch fit through the door?
  • How about your box spring?

Kitchen

  • Gas or Electric Stove?
  • Kitchen sink disposal?
  • Kitchen Sink sprayer?
  • Microwave included in kitchen?
  • How old are the appliances?
  • How loud is the dishwasher?

Bathroom

  • Is there a bathtub or just shower?
  • Does the bathroom vent effectively?
  • If the bathroom door is open, can you see the toilet from the living room?
  • Are there enough towel racks in the bathroom?
  • Is there enough shelf space in the bathroom?
  • Are the vanity lights bright enough to shave cleanly / apply makeup effectively?

Home Office

  • Are there enough outlets to plug stuff in?
  • Is broadband/DSL available?
  • What cable company services the city?
  • Can you have 2 phone lines? (separate fax line)

Parking

  • Is parking included?
  • How much for a parking spot?
  • Is it assigned?
  • Permit from city required to park?
  • What about guest parking?
  • Who plows the snow?
  • Is it tandem parking and will you have to coordinate parking times with the other tenants?

Neighborhood

  • Do you get cell phone reception?
  • Car insurance rates higher/lower?
  • When is trash pickup?
  • Near public transportation?
  • Near a grocery store?
  • Near a gas station?
  • Walking distance to a bar?
  • Are there sidewalks to run on?
  • Is there a health club? Does it suck? When is it open? Can you bring a guest?
  • Is there a pool? Does it suck? When is it open? Can you bring a guest?
  • Are there tennis/basketball/volleyball courts? Do they suck? When are they open? Can you bring a guest?
  • Is there a playground? Is it safe? Is it near a road? Can you hear it from your apartment?
  • Is the area fully developed? Are they going to put up a new building across the street and ruin your view?
  • Is it easy to get to a highway?
  • What are the traffic patterns during rush hour?
  • Is the apartment address easy to find?
  • Are there good take-out places nearby?
  • Where is the nearest cleaners?
  • Where is the nearest 24 hour drug store?
  • Where is the nearest House of worship?
  • Where is the nearest Wal-Mart?
  • Where is the nearest laundromat?
  • Is there a history of theft, vandalism or other crimes?

Potential Nuisances

  • How much noise comes through the walls? Are they party walls?
  • Do headlights come in the windows from passing traffic?
  • Do street lights shine in the bedroom windows?
  • Can you hear people in the hallway?
  • Can you hear the elevator?
  • What are the other tenants like? (look at the cars in the lot)
  • How noisy are they?
  • Do they have children?
  • Do kids live upstairs who will run around early in the morning on weekends and wake you up?
  • Are there students living in the building?
  • Are there businesses across the street that open early (before you want to wake up) and make a lot of noise?
  • Is there an intersection nearby that causes traffic to back up with the result of people honking their horns in front of your windows?
  • Can you hear traffic from nearby roads/highways?
  • Do airplanes constantly fly over your roof?
  • Can you hear the guy who lives below you snore all night?
  • Are there bugs?
  • Is the building old and require constant maintenance?
  • Do the people with the balcony below/above/next to the apartment smoke? Does that smoke come into the apartment?
  • Do the people with the balcony below/above/next to the apartment sit on their balcony on their phone constantly?
  • Is there a bar across the street that has live music at night? Do they leave the door open so the whole neighborhood can hear the music?
  • Are there dogs nearby that bark constantly?
  • Are you near a park that will cause people to take your parking spot and turn around in your driveway?
  • Is the apartment on a street that is a commuters' shortcut?
  • Have there been mold or mildew problems in the apartment or adjacent apartments?

Tips

  • Avoid the cheapest place available. There will be riff-raff, dents in your car doors, broken beer bottles, and screaming kids.