Moving off campus is a quantum leap into adulthood for college students. However, many first apartments include dealings with leaky faucets, exorbitant rent, noncommittal landlords and other inconveniences. Since renting an apartment locks you into a binding contract, asking the right questions can make your first apartment experience positive, comfortable and hassle-free. You should question prospective landlords about rent and deposits, who is responsible for repairs and utilities and other regulations such as as parking and noise.
Before investigating apartments, it's important to know how much you can afford to spend per month. Your primary questions should be how much your payments will be and how often they will be due. Many landlords also require you to pay a security deposit, an amount of money that can be used to repair serious damages. You can ask if a deposit is required, how much it will be, what it will be used for, and under what circumstances it will or will not be returned.
Repairs and Alterations
Even if things seem to be okay when you move in, problems can still arise. It's important to know who will be responsible for repairs such as leaks, heating failures or issues with appliances like refrigerators that are usually supplied with the property. Some landlords will fix these issues themselves, but others require the tenant to be responsible. If you are planning on redecorating, you should also ask whether alterations to the apartment will be permitted such as repainting, wallpapering or installing new carpet.
While rent on its own may appear cheap, utilities like heat, water, garbage service and electric can make your monthly expenses skyrocket. Some landlords handle a few or all utilities while others make them the tenant's responsibility. You should ask prospective landlords what utilities you can expect to pay and what their estimated costs are. If you are interested in cable and Internet access, you can also ask if they will be provided, and if not, what companies they recommend acquiring service through.
Especially in apartment complexes, landlords often have specific rules. These may include restrictions on noise, pets, smoking and how many visitors you can have and for how long. These rules can be especially important if you have pets or are a smoker or musician; if your lifestyle is incompatible with the rules, it may not be the right apartment for you. If you have a car, you should also ask if parking is available for both yourself and guests and if it incurs extra costs.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.