After dozens upon dozens of calls that I have made to the different places that I had an interest in while looking for an apartment I devised a system of questions that determined whether or not I wanted to take the time to look at the apartment.
When you call a business that owns apartments or an apartment complex office it is best to cut to the chase and ask if they have anything available. If you are on a strict time frame and they reply no you can politely end the phone call. If their reply is yes then you can move on to the other questions.
2. Vacancy Rate
If you are flexible in your moving time preference you can ask them if they will have something available in the near future or how often they have something vacant. This may also give you an idea that of how often people are leaving, if the complex is small, like if it has 4 apartments you may take into consideration if people aren’t renting, if it has 30 that factor could mean nothing as far as the quality of the place.
Usually one of the first question the you will be asked about the apartment is what size, 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom, you are looking for, and if they are not the ones asking make sure to inquire about the size of the apartment. When you are looking for a one bedroom or even a studio there is no point in hearing about a place that only have 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom apartments unless their prices are reasonably similar to what you have budgeted.
Now you may have intended on getting a one bedroom apartment and all that a place has is a two bedroom available. Inquire about price, on multiple occasions I have seen a 2 bedroom only slightly higher in price or lower when compared to similar one bedrooms in the area, even if it isn’t a 1 more bedroom like you intended in having. When the price is out of your price range or you don’t meet the income requirements there is no point in setting up an appointment to see the apartment.
Many landlords and real estate companies have certain requirements that some one must meet. If you have ever been to collections make sure that you come out and say it. Your honestly will be valued and if that is something that the apartment owners are concerned with they will do a background check and find out about it anyway. Income requirements are very common, some places want you to make 2 or 3 times as much as the rent, usually they look at gross income so the amount that you make before taxes is what will be considered. If you are not the only person that is going to be on the lease generally places want all individuals to meet the requirements on their own unless the two people are “legally” married.
Once you have established that you will not only be able to afford the apartment that you are considering renting but you will also meet the income requirements that the place has for you, you should inquire about the fees of the application. Some places will deduct the money that you paid towards your application fee but most places offer it non refundable. If you are renting the apartment with a family member, boyfriend or girlfriend, friend or long time partner you will likely have to fill out an application per person, unless the applicants are legally married, wanting to be on the lease. The fee for the applications will be minimal to the chunk of change that you will have to put down if you are approved for the apartment.
7. Deposit and First and Last Month’s Rent
When you rent a place you will have to pay for the first months rent before you can move in, some places require you to pay last month’s rent as well and in addition to paying rent up-front you will also have to pay for a deposit. Be sure to inquire if they want first and last month’s rent and what is the cost of the deposit. It will be likely that you have saved up quite a bit of money to go towards your apartment’s deposit. The cost of the deposit for an apartment will vary but I have never heard of them being less then half than of the cost of rent. It is best to budget the same amount of money that you budgeted for the rent, the cost of the deposit is usually the same as the cost of rent. You may have to pay an extra deposit if you have a pet.
This might the first question that you asked if you have a pet that you can not part with, but if you are thinking about getting a pet you should ask if the apartment that you are inquiring about allows them. Some apartments have restrictions on the size of pet that you can have and others say no pets, not even a fish tank. Depending on how soon you want a pet will be a good reason to find out the leases that are offered.
If you plan to stay in a place for a limited about of time or you don’t want to risk having to stay at a place for more than 6 months in case you really hate it, you will want to inquire about leases. The most standard leases last for 6, 9 and 12 months. If you plan to be leaving the state or city that the apartment is in before a year you will want to make sure that they offer 6 month leases. If there are certain things that you want to have such as specific amenities or a yard you may consider choosing places that don’t have these things when they have shorter leases.
10. Yard Area
When you have a child or a pet it is nice if the apartment complex that you live in has a yard area. Sometimes you can find apartments that have a play area for children, if this is something that you want to have at your apartment complex be sure to ask about it.
11. Amenities and Complex Features
Save yourself some time and asked about the amenities that are important to you, dishwasher, air conditioning etc. If there are certain features that you want an apartment to have, swimming pool, covered parking etc., be sure to ask about them as well. Remember if there isn’t a laundry facility on the property of the apartment complex and there isn’t a washer and drying in the unit you will have to travel to do your laundry. You’ll want to budget lots of quarters for doing you laundry at your complex, if the place you choose has a washer and dryer in the apartment you’ll want to budget more for your utilities.
Depending on your monthly budget you will want to ask about utilities. Sometimes the cost of garbage or water may be included in your rent. Sometimes all utilities are included in your rent. Landlords or apartment managers may have a rough estimate of what utilities will cost a month, so you can ask if they know if you are on a tight budget
13. Directions and Office Location
If you are unsure how to get to a place, or just want to save yourself time in finding it you should ask for directions. Sometimes you will be viewing a complex that does not have an office on the premises, you should ask if their office is on the property and if so where is it located. That way you won’t have to hunt for it when you arrive at the apartment complex.
14. Application Paperwork
If you have a feeling that you might be filling out applications you should inquire about the information that they want, such as most recent pay-stub, bank account number etc. That way if you decide that you want to fill out the paperwork there you will have all the information that you need.
15. Showing Time
Ask them about how much time that they think it is going to take to show you the place. This way you will be able to schedule other places close together, factor in finding the other places and travel time, and manage your time efficiently.
Try and look at several places so you will give yourself a lot of options, schedule appointments for apartments in a particular area around the same time. By asking a lot of stuff over the phone you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run.