The Landing At Briarcliff Blog

5 Questions to Ask Before Renting

Thinking about your next apartment? Here are five important questions to ask before signing that lease.

Whether you’re moving into your first apartment or are a seasoned mover, finding a new apartment can be stressful. At The Landing, we try our best to answer all questions up front and make the moving process as smooth as possible and want to share our experience with the world. While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, here are five of the more important questions you should ask yourself before renting your next apartment.

Are you interested in moving to The Landing? Have a look around the rest of our website for more information about our community, neighborhood, features, and to see pictures. You can also apply now to see what floorplans are available right now.

1.       Budget and Wants vs. Needs

Before you start looking for an apartment you first need to think about what you need. Keep in mind needs versus wants, for example, you may need two bedrooms but want an open floorplan. You might find it nice to have hardwood floors, but in-unit laundry is non-negotiable. Think both inside and outside the apartment, too. What are some community amenities you’re looking for, for example, a fitness center, pool, business center, etc.? If you have a better idea of what you need and want it’ll be easier to narrow down your choices and ultimately make a decision. Most internet listing services will allow you to pick and choose what features you want, or even Googling phrases like “pet-friendly apartment in Kansas City” can bring up a list of options.

As you’re making your list of wants and needs you should also think about your budget. Most apartments require an income of three times the rent, so for example if the apartment is $1,000/month you’d need to make at least $3,000/month before taxes to be approved. Your budget should also include potential utilities and other monthly costs. Many apartments do include gas, water, electricity, and the like in the monthly rent, but it’s better to budget for it in case. Don’t forget other monthly costs as well, like groceries, phone bill, and credit cards, not to mention enough left over for savings. If you have pets there’s often a separate monthly pet fee, as well as an initial deposit. Also keep in mind that there are quite a few potential up-front costs to move, both from the management company (deposit, application fee, etc.) and outside costs (moving company, internet and other utility activation, etc.)

2.       Location

Now that you know what you need it’s time to think about where you want to be. Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of a downtown urban apartment, or are you a more laid back suburban type of person? Regardless of urban and suburban, think about what else you want close-by like grocery stores, shopping malls, nightlife, libraries, hiking and biking trails, or other businesses and activities relevant to your interest. Before you even visit the property you can put the address into Google Maps and see what all is around your potential new home.

Keep these types of thoughts in your mind as you’re going to visit the property as well. Leave early enough for your tour to drive around beforehand, or even turn on the location on your smartphone and see what businesses are advertised near you and how far away they are. The leasing team can also be a great resource, or online reviews to hear from current and past residents.

3.       Commute

As you’re researching the location you should also think about your commute. Do you want to drive to and from work every day, or would you prefer using public transportation? How long are you willing to spend traveling to or from work every day? If you want to take public transportation take a look at where the nearest bus stop or train station is. If driving yourself is preferred, you can put the addresses into Google Maps or Waze to see the average drive time at any time of the day or even make the drive yourself to get a better feel.

For remote workers, the commute may not be an issue but there are other questions to ask for your particular set of needs. For example, internet options and available speeds could make a big difference if you need a reliable connection for conference calls. While working from home can be a great way to have a better work/life balance, no one wants to actually work from their apartment the entire time. What coffee shops or other coworking options are nearby for a change of scenery? Many apartment communities are beginning to offer specific areas for such activities, or even rent-by-the-day offices for you to use so you don’t even need to pay for overpriced coffee to get that free WiFi.

4.       Rules, Terms, and Conditions

To avoid any confusion or unwanted surprises after you’ve signed a lease, make sure you understand any community rules or lease terms. Leasing associates should go over any frequently asked questions automatically, but don’t be afraid to ask for further explanation if you need it. After all, you’re trusting them enough to sign over the next 6, 12, 15, or more months and everyone wants it to be as enjoyable as possible. Think about other policies as well, like the pet policy, even if you don’t currently have a dog or cat but may want one in the future. Some common pet rules include weight limits, breed restrictions, and maximum number of pets per apartment.

Some other important policies to ask about are:

·         Painting, hanging items, or other potential decorations

·         Visitor policy and guest parking

·         Community quiet hours or other common area rules

·         Parking options and upgrades

·         Public areas (pool, fitness center, dog park, etc.) rules and hours

·         Lease terms, and options for breaking the lease if needed

·         Rent collection (how, where, when, late fees)

·         Renter’s insurance

5.       Moving Plan

There’s not all that much you can do to make the actual act of moving less stressful besides hiring professional movers, but if you have a solid plan put together you can avoid surprises and other stressors that can come with moving. Think about how much you’ll be moving, and how far it will need to travel. If you have several heavy items but are only going across town it may be worth it to hire professionals for a few hours. If you have fewer, lighter items or are moving more than an hour or so away it may be more cost-effective to rent a moving van and cash in some of your friends’ IOUs. Depending on how much time you’ve given yourself to find a new apartment, pack, and move, your window of opportunity may be shorter or longer, but regardless of how quickly you need to move you should make a packing strategy so you’re not throwing everything in boxes at the last minute.

As you’re packing, keep in mind what items you may need sooner rather than later. For example, off-season clothes, extra bedding and towels, and decorative items you can start putting away as soon as you decide to move, but items like daily clothes, kitchenware, and toiletries you’ll want to save until last. As you’re packing also make sure you label the outside of the boxes with the room and contents to make it easier to find everything once you’re at your new apartment. No one wants to have to hunt around for plates and cups just to eat dinner the first night!

Do you have other tips and tricks for fellow renters? Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share them with us!

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