Top 17 questions to ask about apartments before you rent

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UPDATED: 2022-07-25T04:54:32.243Z
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A happy couple making breakfast in their apartment that they're renting.

Renting an apartment or house may be the right option for many people, but finding the right place to rent can take a lot of work. Whether you are looking to rent for the first time, or if you’ve decided to move and find a new place to rent, asking the right questions before you sign your lease is very important.

From security deposits to pets, here’s a list of the top 17 questions to ask about apartments to get you started on finding the right rental for your situation. Keep these questions in mind to ask when apartment hunting. They could help you plan ahead and choose the right apartment.

It's also a smart idea to have some form of renters insurance lined up before you find a place. Not only does it speed up the process, but it shows potential landlords that you're going to be responsible with the property you'll be renting. The less amount of maintenance a property manager will need to perform on the place that they're renting, the happier they will be.

However, setting something up ahead of time doesn't always work out, so you can also inquire about a potential grace period if you find a place you love but you don't have a policy in place yet. If you need to compare insurance companies, we offer a free online comparison tool that can help you find the best monthly cost for your budget.

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Financial questions to ask about apartments

1. What is the monthly rent, and what does it include?

This apartment question sounds basic and should be spelled out in your rental agreement, but be sure to find out up front what the rent is and what is included. Taking notes when you visit different apartments can be helpful so you can refer back to them later, especially if you are looking at a number of places.

2. How much is the security deposit?

When looking at apartments, be sure to ask questions about your security deposit, including the typical amount of time it takes to get it back after you leave a rental property. This amount can be considerable, so it’s worth asking questions.

3. What are the average utility costs?

This is an important question to ask about apartments, especially if heat or A/C aren’t included in your rent. You might have to call the utilities that provide these services to get these numbers, but it’s worth it to take the time to do so. Finding out that your apartment has awful insulation and that your heating bill is going to be more than your rent for four months out of the year is something you’ll want to know up front.

4. How frequently do you increase the cost of rent?

This is one of the important questions to ask the landlord of the property. A prospective landlord might not want to answer this question, but ask anyway. In popular areas, you might face annual rent increases and this could have an impact on how settled in you want to get.

5. What happens if I need to break my lease?

How you frame this question is important. You don’t want a prospective landlord to think that you won’t be sticking around — but life happens and you need to know what kind of penalty you’ll be facing if you find you have to move suddenly. Consider including this in your list of questions to ask when renting an apartment, but be sure to word it carefully.

6. Are there any additional fees (fees to use pool, common areas, etc.)?

Another question to ask before renting is if there are any additional fees to use any amenities at your apartment complex. Any additional fees should be outlined in your lease agreement, but again, it’s good to know up front if there are charges for amenities like a pool or a gym.

Renters insurance questions to ask before renting an apartment

1. Do you require renters insurance?

An important question to ask the landlord of the property is if he or she requires renters insurance. While renters insurance is not required by law, some landlords require their tenants to have it.

Regardless if your landlord requires you to have renters insurance or not, renters insurance is valuable to protect your belongings. Many landlords require you to show proof of coverage, so ask what you’re expected to bring to your lease signing. Check out top customer-rated renters insurance in your zip code on Clearsurance’s rankings page to find the best insurance and get quotes.

2. Do you have landlord insurance?

Any professionally managed rental property is likely to be covered by landlord’s insurance, but it’s worth it to ask the question before renting. Landlord’s insurance offers protection to a landlord for property damage, but it also provides peace of mind to renters.

3. Is this rental in or near a flood plain?

Flooding from a natural disaster or extreme weather isn’t typically covered by renters insurance. If you’re renting an apartment or home that might flood, you should get separate flood insurance. The potential to flood isn’t always evident, so be sure to ask the question before renting a unit so you can be prepared with the necessary insurance coverage.

Questions to ask about the condition of the rental

1. What are the landlord’s responsibilities for repairs?

Is there a handyman on call 24/7? What constitutes an emergency repair need? How quickly can I expect repairs to be completed? Ask a lot of questions about how repairs are handled in the apartment. You might never need the assistance, but if your A/C breaks down in your fifth floor apartment in the middle of August, it’s good to have an idea of what to expect.

2. What modifications (if any) are permissible? (can walls be painted, satellite dish installed, etc.)

Sometimes this is spelled out in a lease agreement, but it’s good to ask this question about apartments to get clarification. Some landlords are okay with paint if the color is returned to neutral when you leave, while others will prohibit any painting at all.

Questions to ask about apartments and the amenities

1. Is high speed internet available? Ask about your must-have amenities.

Make a list of things you can’t live without and ask when on your apartment tour. If you occasionally have the option to work from home, high speed internet might be a requirement. Same with cell phone coverage. Check your carrier’s coverage maps to see what service will be in your new place.

2. Is parking included and is there a charge? How many spaces are allowed per unit? What about parking for visiting guests?

When considering an apartment, be sure to ask about parking if you’re planning to have a car. Ask upfront if there is a charge to park your car on the complex or near the apartment and how many spaces you’re allowed to use. You may also want to ask about parking for any guests that might visit the apartment.

3. Where is the closest grocery store?

This question is more of a prompt to think about what is important to you, and find out where those facilities are. If access to a fitness center is important, or daily yoga, find out where these businesses are because it will affect how much you enjoy where you live. You may also want to ask how accessible public transportation is from the apartment.

Miscellaneous apartment questions to ask when apartment hunting

1. Do you allow pets and is there a pet fee?

Some rentals prohibit all animals, others allow only pets under a certain weight and you might need to pay a surcharge for having a pet that will cover any damage and special cleaning (to remove pet dander) when you leave. Some landlords discriminate against certain breeds of dogs, which is sometimes prompted by their insurance policies. Ask about pets if having an animal companion is important to you.

2. Can I add a roommate?

Maybe you discover that your expenses were higher than expected, or you decided to have your significant other move in with you. Landlords will want to know if there’s another person in your apartment and they might want to modify your lease to reflect the addition. You also might need to have your new roommate provide evidence that they too have renters insurance.

3. Are there any prohibitions on guests?

Find out if there are any restrictions to having guests, subletting the apartment (most leases prohibit this), or any other restrictions.

When on the hunt for a new place to rent, asking the right questions about apartments will help you to find the right rental situation for your needs. Make sure you get answers before you sign the lease.

If you’re looking for an apartment or rental home, visit Clearsurance’s renters insurance rankings page to see the top-rated companies in your zip code, as rated by consumers.

We also have a free comparison tool that will let you compare quotes from different companies.

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