33 Valuable Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting

If you're looking for a new apartment, you’ll likely tour multiple properties and talk to several leasing agents. With all the possible choices, asking the right questions upfront can help you find the best fit quickly. To help you do just that, we've created a list of key questions to ask when apartment hunting that you can use to guide your search.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
February 6, 2024
33 Valuable Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting

Searching for a new apartment is an exciting yet overwhelming process. You want to find the perfect place to call home without overlooking any important details that could impact your happiness. 

As you view potential rentals and speak with leasing agents, asking the right questions and getting answers on things like lease terms, amenities, parking, maintenance, fees, and more will tell you if the property truly fits your needs and preferences.

Thinking through important details now prevents unpleasant surprises down the road after move-in. Although apartment hunting takes effort, knowing what to ask as you evaluate options will give you confidence that you're choosing the best home for your lifestyle and budget.

Good questions to ask when apartment hunting

So, let's not waste any time! Your new, perfect apartment is waiting. Here are the questions that you need to ask when touring an apartment:

1. How much is the monthly rent?

Ask the leasing agent or landlord for the exact monthly rental rate. Don't just assume it's exactly what's listed online or in ads; make sure to get the current pricing. Ask exactly what the monthly rent covers: does it only include the unit or does it cover additional amenities? You'll want all the details spelled out clearly.

2. What are my options for paying rent?

Ask what payment options are available to pay rent each month. Many properties allow online rent payments through a tenant portal. This method means you can set up a direct bank account debit for auto-draft rent payments. Some apartment owners may only accept mailed checks or cash in-person payments.

3. What are the upfront move-in costs and fees?

Find out all costs and fees required to move in. Typically there will be a security deposit equal to 1-2 months' rent.

There is usually an application fee just to apply and run a credit or background check. Ask about any other move-in fees to avoid unexpected costs.

4. Is renters insurance required?

Many apartments require tenants to maintain a renter's insurance policy covering their personal belongings and liability. This protects you and the property in the event of theft, damage, injuries, or other covered incidents.

5. What is the pet policy?

If you have pets or are planning to get one, ask about the pet policy details before signing a lease. A property manager typically charges an upfront pet deposit and monthly pet rent. Ask about breed or size restrictions as well, because some landlords ban aggressive breeds or limit dog weights.

Understand any other pet rules regarding shots, leash policies, and cleanliness. Make sure the policy fits your specific pet before committing to the apartment.

6. What are the lease terms and length of the lease?

The standard apartment lease term is 1 year. Some properties offer shorter lease options of 3-6 months, but typically at a higher monthly rent. Before signing a lease, understand the minimum commitment required so you don't get locked into something longer than needed.

If you need more flexibility, ask about a month-to-month lease option, but expect to pay a premium rate compared to a 1 year lease.

7. How do lease renewals and rent increases work?

As your lease end date approaches, ask about the renewal process and whether rental rates will increase. Typically, you'll get 30-60 days' notice of renewal rates. Expect a 2-5% annual rental increase. The apartment you're looking at might offer discounts for longer leases of 2 to 3 years to lock in lower rates.

You'll also want to find out how far in advance notice is required to renew or not. Make sure to get any agreement for fixed or capped rental increases in writing.

8. Is subletting allowed?

Find out the sublet policy if you need to move out before your lease ends. Subletting allows you to rent your unit temporarily to someone else.

Inquire about whether sublets are allowed, what the process looks like, any fees, and your responsibilities as the original tenant.

9. How strict are noise rules and regulations?

Ask for details about all of the property's noise policies. Most apartments prohibit loud music, parties, and yelling during late-night hours on weekdays and weekends.

If you have kids, find out if jumping and running are prohibited to keep upstairs neighbors quiet. In addition, know when construction and move-ins are allowed so you don't disturb others.

If you're musically inclined, ask about whether there are any bans on musical instruments or loudspeakers.

10. What other restrictions apply?

Make sure to clarify any other unique rules or restrictions for residents. For example, some apartment owners prohibit or limit holiday decorations if they pose safety risks. Others restrict grilling on balconies due to fire hazards.

Understand all delivery and moving policies so you don't end up blocking entrances or damaging the rental property upon move-in. Knowing any odd restrictions upfront prevents headaches later and gives you a better idea of how the rental is run, so ask about these upfront.

11. What are smoking policies?

Be sure to ask about the smoking policy if you or anyone in your household smokes. Many apartments today have implemented non-smoking policies due to secondhand smoke concerns, meaning smoking is prohibited everywhere on the premises, including inside rental units and all outdoor common areas.

12. What are the roommate policies?

If you plan to live with roommates, this question's important to ask. Many apartments require each roommate to individually apply and be formally added to the rental agreement. Occupancy limits often restrict how many roommates can live in a unit based on size and rooms.

13. What are the guest and visitor policies?

Guest policies vary between properties, so get specifics on overnight stays. Many limit visitor stays to under a week or two to prevent unofficial roommates. Make sure you understand what documentation or registration is necessary for longer stays.

In addition, make sure to ask if guests can access amenities like pools or gyms, as the apartment rules may ask you to accompany guests or obtain passes for them.

14. Is public transportation conveniently located?

If you rely on public transportation, verify that you have access to bus or metro stops nearby. Some properties offer shuttle services to nearby transit stations as well. You can also ask about discounted metro passes or subsidies that apartment buildings may offer.

15. Are there grocery stores, restaurants, and banks nearby?

Research daily services like dining and errand options within walking distance or within a short drive of the apartment complex (if you own a vehicle). How close are grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, cleaners or salons? Check that there are enough affordable, quality options for your regular needs.

16. What is the neighborhood like in terms of noise levels day and night?

To assess the noise levels, visit the property and neighborhood on different days and times; make sure to cover weekdays, weekends, mornings, and nights. Listen for any disruptive noise from traffic, people, construction, or airports.

Most importantly, assess the level of street and hallway noise to make sure that you can sleep and work undisturbed.

17. How safe is the neighborhood?

Research online for local crime rates and statistics to gauge area safety. Walk or drive around at different times to inspect the property, streets, alleys, parks, and other areas.

Take note of lighting, secured access points, and surveillance cameras. Ask about and research the history of break-ins or vandalism.

18. Are there lifestyle and leisure amenities close by?

Look at a neighborhood map and ask if there are gyms, movie theaters, parks or other entertainment options close by. Are there enough choices for your lifestyle? Nearby amenities like these enhance convenience and enjoyment in your daily life.

19. What amenities does the apartment building offer?

Take an apartment tour to experience the common facilities and amenities firsthand. Ask what amenities the apartment has, such as a pool, hot tub, gym, lounge, grill area, and playground. Find out if there are access rules, hours, and if reservations are needed to use these apartment amenities.

20. Does the building have laundry facilities?

In-unit laundry is ideal, but many apartments will have shared laundry rooms or machines. Does the apartment complex have enough machines for residents?

You'll also want to know operational details like hours, payment methods, and pricing, since machine costs can add up quickly. On-site laundry is a major perk if it is well-maintained and affordable.

21. Are there in-unit features like A/C, closets, storage, or a balcony?

When touring an apartment, check out the in-unit features that will impact your daily life. If you live in a hot climate, pay attention to details like central air conditioning. Consider amenities such as walk-in closets and ample kitchen storage that can make living easier.

When renting an apartment, features like these impact your daily life, so be sure to select a new apartment you enjoy coming home to.

22. Have there been recent upgrades or renovations?

A recently renovated apartment can give you peace of mind that your new apartment likely won't need repairs in the near future. Ask about the latest upgrades to things like HVAC, appliances, carpets, countertops, fixtures, and flooring.

23. Does the building have sufficient lighting?

Lighting improves safety and security, so scope out lighting on tours during the day and evening. Check for exterior lights in walkways, entryways, and parking lots.

24. What appliances come with the apartment?

Check with the property manager on what appliances are included, like the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, washer, and dryer. Open and inspect appliances to verify they work properly. Ask about maintenance policies if an appliance needs repair or replacement.

25. Are utilities included or separate?

Find out if rent includes utilities like electricity, gas, water, trash, and internet, or if you'll need to pay for those separately. If separate, request estimates on average monthly costs and what previous tenants have paid so you can get a better idea of your overall monthly costs.

26. What about parking availability?

When considering a new apartment, ask about parking availability and costs upfront. Find out if the rent includes parking or if there are extra fees. See if the rental unit includes a designated parking spot or open parking.

Also check if guest parking is allowed and whether it has any associated charges. Note if parking is outdoors, covered, or in a parking garage. Ask about permit requirements, point systems that limit parking, and local street parking rules.

27. Is any remodeling allowed?

Are there any rules that impact your ability to personalize your unit after moving in? Understand what alterations the property manager allows, like painting or installing shelving. You'll want to avoid making changes that you must reverse when leaving.

28. Are there any mandatory fees?

Check if there are any additional monthly fees in the lease beyond rent. These could include community association fees, business fees, municipal fees, or other mandatory costs. Factor these fees into your housing budget.

29. What are the consequences of late rent?

Find out about the policies and penalties for late rent payments to avoid unnecessary fees. Many apartments allow some type of grace period, but once late fees set in, they can increase daily or weekly the longer the rent goes unpaid. Eviction procedures usually begin after 30 days after rent has gone unpaid, so be aware of penalties to stay on top of each month's rent.

30. Are any move-in specials offered?

Ask the leasing agent if they offer any specials or promotions for signing a new lease. Some properties run rent concessions like reduced deposits, free first month's rent, or gift cards to entice potential tenants.

31. How are packages handled?

Ask where packages are received and the process for retrieving them. Many apartments have package locker rooms or mailrooms. Understand the hours for access and if you'll get email or text notifications when a delivery arrives.

Make sure the package system is secure, convenient, and accommodates your schedule to reduce theft risk.

32. What security measures control building access?

Look for secure access points like locked entry and exits, video surveillance, keyed or electronic elevators, and stairwell access. Ask if there are security guards or door attendants on-site for assistance, and if the apartments require you to use a keycard for building access. You can also check if the landlord allows you to install a security system for your individual unit.

33. What are the maintenance and management policies?

How do tenants put in maintenance requests? In your apartment hunt, you'll want to confirm that there's a way to reach the management office or other support to handle issues and emergency repairs.

Questions to ask when renting an apartment

Finding the right apartment takes time and effort, but the hard work is worth it to set yourself up for a positive living experience. As you visit potential apartments, note which ones meet your must-haves and which you can envision calling home.

Try to picture yourself making your morning coffee in the kitchen, relaxing after work on the balcony, or cozying up with a book in the bedroom nook. Let yourself daydream a bit about your potential new apartment.

If the thought of living there sparks excitement, you'll know you're on the right track in your apartment search journey. Finding a space that aligns with your lifestyle, budget and personality will make all those questions and tours worthwhile.

What questions to ask when apartment hunting FAQs

How do you hunt for an apartment for the first time?

Make a list of must-haves, drive around preferred neighborhoods, and check online listings. Visit places in person, take notes, and don't rush the process.

What shouldn't I say to a landlord?

Avoid making disrespectful or offensive statements, such as criticizing the property's condition or making demands without considering the landlord's perspective.

What do you say when you want to see an apartment?

Briefly introduce yourself, mention the listing, and provide available days and times to schedule a showing. Share key details like your anticipated move-in date and follow up with questions.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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