Before renting an apartment, you will want to check it out first. This doesn’t mean show up once and do a simple walk through of the place and then sign the lease. That’s a cursory viewing of a place at best and can’t really be considered due diligence. By spending more time looking at the apartment and looking around the apartment at your neighbors, amenities and neighborhood in general, you’ll be able to get a real sense of if you can live in this place for the extent of your lease, if not longer.
A Shady Neighborhood
Get a sense of the neighborhood. Check online for crime statistics but also just drive or walk around. Does it feel safe? Are there people out walking strollers and dogs, or are the streets eerily empty? You probably don’t want to live in a place that’s in a neighborhood which you can’t walk around in, as that bad element will most likely bleed into the apartment complex you live in.
Does your apartment allow pets or not allow pets? If you have a pet and need it to, then this is something of a moot point. If you don’t have a pet and the apartment complex allows pets, this can be a red flag, as it means your neighbor might have a dog that barks all day at some point in the future, which will be a noise nightmare that you will have a difficult time doing anything about.
Is there construction going on or about to start near your apartment complex? While a realtor might tell you this is a great thing in the sense that it may add a new commercial business, like a bar or restaurant, noise that will most likely start early in the morning is something you may be concerned with, especially if you have an irregular schedule and like to sleep in on the weekends. Try to investigate this based on places that appear to be under construction nearby and by checking public information about building permits with neighboring addresses.
Fellow Tenant Types
Head back to the apartment complex a few times and get an idea of what the other tenants are like to make sure they fit with your way of living. If they don’t, then it could be a red flag. For example, if you’re an in bed by ten, quiet living type, then a few apartments full of people who are always by the pool in the middle of the complex or are regularly out and about partying until the wee morning hours might be a real problem. And vice versa. If you’re the type who stays up late, plays loud music and loves to have a wild, good time, an apartment complex with a lot of people who love their peace and quiet is not going to bode well over the course of your lease.
Cleanliness of Public Areas
Go to the public areas of the apartment complex and give them a really solid once over. Are the stairways, laundry rooms, pool areas and entrance area filthy, have things that are not working in them or generally unkempt? This is a sign of how the landlord or management company takes care of the property—and also a sign of how the tenants treat the property. If there is trash or large amounts of dirt, lights that are out or appliances that are not working in any of these areas, think about how long it will take to get your sink or toilet fixed in your apartment when it breaks?