Checklist for Renting an Apartment

Check the fine print before you sign on the dotted line.
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Renting an apartment is not just a job, it's an adventure. Both the tenant and the landlord have expectations as well as responsibilities. When you search for an apartment, creating an itemized checklist will help you find the perfect place while avoiding problems after you sign the lease.

Lease Term

Before you search for an apartment, determine how long you plan to live there. It may be a temporary situation while attending school or building a house. In that case, you will want to find an apartment that offers short-term leases. If you plan to live in the apartment for more than a year, find out how much the rent will increase each year. If there is a possibility of a job transfer, check on the policies for breaking a lease before the term is up. Apartments owned by large management companies may offer a transfer clause if you move to another city where they are located.


Renting an apartment will typically require a deposit. The amount of the deposit will vary, but standards are either one month's rent or the up front payment of the first and last month's rent. Check the lease to see what conditions apply to ensure you receive your deposit back at the end of the lease term. If the apartment has been vacant for a period of time, ask if there are any incentives such as a waiver of the deposit.


In addition to the base rent of an apartment, you will face charges for utilities. The first question to ask is if any utilities are included in the rent. You will need to budget for utilities that are not included, so ask for average monthly charges on all utilities. You will also want to know what type of heating is in the apartment such as electric, natural gas or propane. The cost of heating an apartment can vary widely based on this. Once you rent the apartment, you will need to contact each utility company to have the billing put in your name. Some may also require a deposit to initiate service under a new account.


Find out what rules and regulations govern the rental of your apartment. This can cover anything from putting nails in the walls to hang pictures to whether or not you can have a barbecue grill on your deck. There may be restrictions on how many occupants can live in the dwelling. Pet policies are important to know. If pets are permitted, you will want to know restrictions on type, size and breeds.


Many apartment complexes offer a range of amenities to their tenants such as a swimming pool, a fitness center, a business center, a laundry room and a clubhouse. Ask for a list of amenities that are included or if any require a fee for use. Find out what hours the amenities are available and if guests are permitted to use them. Determine if parking is assigned or if there is a fee to park in a garage if one is available.

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