6 Questions to Ask When Touring an Apartment Community

Finding the right apartment isn’t always easy, but you can give yourself an advantage by remembering to ask the following questions when you visit your prospective new community for the first time.

How Much Is the Security Deposit?
A one-time security deposit is meant to give your property manager some level of insurance against any damage that you may cause to the apartment. Most properties ask for one month’s rent in advance, but some require two months’ rent. Be sure to find out how much you’ll be expected to pay. If you leave the apartment in good condition, the property manager will return your security deposit.

Parking garage

Between the lines: Be sure to ask about available parking. Your community may have a parking garage, but you may find it more convenient (and cheaper) to park in the lot. (vincent desjardins via Flickr)

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How Much Is Rent?
This is another question you need to ask when touring an apartment community. In fixing apartment rents, a property manager considers the rent of comparable apartment units but also takes into account amenities such as a prime location, an on-site fitness center or recent renovations. Though experts recommend that you should set aside between 25% and 35% of your income for rent, your preferred location could demand more. For example, you can expect to pay more in certain parts of Northwest, D.C.

Periodic rent increases are also common. A contract signed for a year guarantees your rate during the time span. After that period, the rent could increase based on the national inflation figure or other variables.

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When Is Rent Due?
Is your rent due on the fifth day of the month or the last day? Is there a grace period? Property managers have different policies, but if you enjoy a regular pay schedule, this likely won’t be a problem. If your income is not regular, keeping up with the dates could be difficult. Knowing the due date in advance obviously helps in the planning process.

Which Utilities Are Included in the Rent?
Be sure to find out if utilities are included in your rent or if you’ll have to pay them separately. If your utilities are separate from your rent, you may be required to pay a utilities deposit. For instance, the electricity company may require you to pay an additional deposit if you don’t have a credit history or if you are a new tenant in the area. The same should be expected from the cable company, gas company or any other monthly utility provider.

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Are There Any Issues With Bugs?
A small bug problem could turn into a big issue if there’s an infestation. There are many ways an apartment community can be infested by roaches, bedbugs, ants and other pests. The infestation could simply be the result of a former tenant who didn’t take adequate steps to control pests.

As property managers are legally required to provide acceptable living conditions, they have an obligation to manage pest control. Unfortunately, there are property managers who neglect this responsibility, leaving it to the tenants to decide how to respond.

What Is The Parking Situation Like?
Finally, if you’re a driver, be sure to get details on available parking. If there’s a parking garage, make sure to ask about the monthly fee. How many parking spaces are allocated to each tenant? Are there ample visitor spots? Do your visitors need to obtain a parking pass? If there is no garage, find out if there’s a parking lot or even street parking nearby. Does the lot have meters? Can you purchase a parking permit (which generally costs less than paying the meters each day) from the city?

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