Finding your first apartment is a rite of passage, and all you want is to make the journey as smooth as possible. Getting your own apartment in college (roommates or not) is a big step in becoming a real adult, which also means you may have to negotiate and advocate for yourself for the first time. In order to advocate for yourself, you need to know what questions to ask to get the answers you need.
Landlords can make or break your apartment experience. Before you put any money down or sign any papers, it’s best to schedule an in-person viewing of the unit and building, since photos can be deceiving. If you are unable to view an apartment yourself, ask friends in the city to go for you and FaceTime you while they are there. It’s best to ask your landlord questions directly rather than have your realtor be the messenger. That way, your future landlord can show you anything you have Qs about in person at your viewing.
Since this is the first time many students ~leave the nest~, it’s completely normal to have lots of questions. Below are a few to ask as you’re looking for your college apartment.
Questions about Rent
- How much is the rent?
- When is the rent due?
- Is there a fee in the event that the rent is late?
- How much is the deposit?
- Is there a key deposit fee?
- How and when are any deposits refunded?
Questions about your lease
- How long is the lease for?
- Does the lease let you sublet?
- Is there a penalty for breaking the lease?
- Do you need a guarantor or references?
- Does the unit include any storage spaces in the building?
Questions About Utilities
- What utilities are included in the rent?
- What are the average monthly utility costs, if not included in the rent?
Questions About Parking
- Does a parking spot come with the unit?
- Is there parking available on the street?
- Is a parking spot included in the rent, or is it an extra fee?
Questions About Laundry
- Are there in-unit or in-building laundry facilities?
- Are they coin-operated? How much do they cost?
Questions About pets
- Are pets allowed?
- What kinds are permitted?
- Is there an additional cost for pets?
Questions About Maintenance
- Under what circumstances are landlords allowed to enter the unit?
- How much advance entry do tenants get?
- How are maintenance requests handled?
- How do you report maintenance requests?
- What is the turnaround time for requests?
- Are tenants allowed to paint?
And be sure to remember renter’s insurance. This is something you will have to look into on your own, but most apartments need you to have it. (If you’re living in a community, that is — if you’re looking at apartments within houses off campus, you may not need this.) Renter’s insurance will help replace your belongings in the unfortunate circumstances of a covered risk like water damage, fire, or theft.
Asking these questions will set you up for an amazing experience in your college apartment. Happy hunting!