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3 Things You Need to Know Before Signing a Lease for an Apartment

Let’s say you’re speaking with an owner of an off-campus apartment complex. Everything sounds great and the apartment is in decent shape, then the owner turns to you and asks “Do you have any questions?”

Especially if you’re a first-time apartment hunter, knowing what questions to ask in these situations can be tricky. Lucky for you, we’ve got a list of the top questions to ask a landlord before agreeing to sign a lease.

“What, exactly, is included in my rent?”

First and foremost, you want to know what you’re paying for. To make the right decision on an apartment, you need to have a clear understanding of what’s included in your rent. Are there any utilities included in your rent (water, heat, electricity, etc.)? What about amenities? Do you get free access to a clubhouse or workout room with your rent costs? What about parking?

It might surprise you how much is actually included in your rent costs, so it’s important that you ask the question. It can really influence your decision one way or another.

You may also find it helpful to have a set of things written out that you want or need your rent to cover. (For example, you might need in-house laundry facilities or a garage space for your car, or you might really want a gym/exercise room). If the owner doesn’t mention something on your list, ask about it and see if that’s an additional cost you will have to pick up somewhere else.

“How much does the average utility bill cost?”

It’s easy to think that when you sign a lease to an apartment, the only cost you have to worry about paying is rent. While rent is the main cost, you will also need to keep in mind that you will have to pay a monthly utility bill as well.

Depending on the area, the time of year, the size of the apartment, and the energy efficiency of its appliances (oh, and how good you are at turning off the lights!) utility bills can range from as low as $20 to as high as $100. The only way to really get a feel for what you might have to pay is to ask apartment owner what the average utility bill costs.

“Are there any additional fees?”

As a college student, you are typically living on a tight budget as it is. You’re going to want to make sure that there won’t be any extra fees that pop up. Ask the owner if there will be a signing fee, processing/application fee, subleasing fee, approval fee or anything else. Be on the lookout for fees like these because it can add up quickly!

Hopefully, these questions will help you in your decision-making process and give you a better idea of what you want from an apartment or housing unit. Best of luck with your apartment search!