Just like beginning a new relationship, finding the right apartment home in Austin for rent requires being a little level-headed. You wouldn’t just run off and marry the first good looking person you see, right? No– you’d want to spend some time together to get to know them to make sure they are a good fit.
You need to keep that in mind while apartment hunting too: There are a few important things you should know before signing a lease contract, even if you already love the way the place looks.
1. WHAT ARE THE LEASE TERMS?
You should already be aware of when the lease begins and ends before you even look at a place. But if you aren’t, make sure you know when you’ll be able to move in and how many months the lease is for. You should also know exactly how much the unit costs per month and what the late policy is– is there a grace period?
2. CAN YOU GO OVER ANY MOVE-IN FEES?
Each apartment community handles moves completely different, so make sure you know what moving in will look like for you financially while visiting apartments. For instance, do they require first and last months’ rent up front? Do they need a security deposit?
3. WHAT’S YOUR PET POLICY?
Whether you own a pet or just think you might want to adopt one within the next year (or however long the lease term extends), you should absolutely ask about the pet policy. Most importantly, are pets allowed? If not, it’s best to move on– trying to hide a dog or cat could be very costly for you down the road. If they do allow pets, what are the deposits and fees? Pet policies vary widely, but most properties will charge a non-refundable pet deposit, a pet deposit and monthly pet rent.
4. HOW ABOUT YOUR GUEST POLICY?
Most leases will mention a guest policy, but some are stricter than others. For instance, in some places, having a visitor for longer than two weeks is not technically allowed (which means allowing your friend to stay with you for a month this summer may not be an option).
5. DO YOU REQUIRE RENTERS INSURANCE?
Renters insurance is another thing to think about while apartment hunting. Renters insurance provides coverage for all of your property in the event of things like a fire, flood, and often even theft. It may also cover injuries that happen within your apartment. This type of coverage tends to cost very little per month, so it’s a good idea to get it anyway. However, some apartments actually require renters insurance, so it’s important to ask while making visits.
6. WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE RENT? WHAT ISN’T?
Rent is almost never the only expense you’ll have when living in an apartment. You will often be responsible for things like water, trash, pest control, heat and cooling. It’s best to know exactly what is and isn’t included in order to determine the total monthly cost of living there. If an apartment’s rent is cheap, but covers no utilities, cable, Internet, or anything else, it still may be a bit above your budget.
7. WHAT IS AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
Make sure you are familiar with the neighborhood. If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, you can always ask your leasing agent for directions to grocery stores, shopping and local entertainment. Or you can always visit Walkscore.com and type in the address you will be residing at and a list of local stores, restaurants and more will appear.
8. WHAT IS THE PARKING SITUATION?
If you own a car, parking should be high on your priority list. In many neighborhoods– especially in larger cities– street parking can be hard to find and expensive, so finding an apartment with detached garages or covered parking may be ideal. However, a personal covered parking spot or detached garage is often an added charge, so ask about the cost as well.