What to Ask Before You Rent

Choosing a new apartment can be an exhausting process with many variables to consider. It can be hard to know whether you will be truly happy living in a particular location. Besides, if you’ve been apartment hunting for more than a day or two, every place may start to look alike to you.

good questions to ask before renting apartment

When you’re committing to living somewhere for a year or more, a little information goes a long way. Take a few minutes to make a list of the things that really matter to you. What makes you really feel at home in a living space? Here are some questions to ask before you sign a lease.

Making a list, checking it twice
To help keep track of different spaces you visit, keep a notebook with entries for each one. Comparing the answers to the questions on your list for each potential apartment will help you decide which place will make the best home — whether it was the very first place you saw last week, or the one you just left moments ago.

Rental cost, convenience to work, school and local attractions and important lease terms will be spelled out everywhere you go. The more personal questions you will want to ask can be found by examining where you already live, or recalling places where you have been most happy living in the past. Daily habits of exercising, cooking, shopping and driving, preferences in home decor, details about the apartments’ interiors and information about surrounding neighborhoods may all come into play when making an informed decision.

Making yourself at home
If home decorating is a big part of your lifestyle, there are some rules you might want to ask about. What kind of painting, if any, is allowed? Are there restrictions on wall-hangings? What changes must be made if you move out?

Breaking up is hard to do
If you’re considering changing jobs, going back to school or moving in with a significant other in the near future, you might want to think ahead. Find out what your leasing options are (full-year leases, month-to-month leases) and how much notice is required to leave the apartment. This information might factor into your decision. 

Standard amenities are great — the more of them you can have, the better — but making a list of your own priorities and asking questions up front is the best way to find a good fit in your new home.

Here are important questions you may want to ask before renting a new apartment.

While looking at prospective apartments, consider the following:

  1. How long is the commute from this apartment to your job?
  2. How far is the apartment from major highways or rail stations?
  3. How long has the managing company been in business?
  4. Where are nearby services you’ll need to use often (grocery store, drugstore, dry cleaners) or want to have close by (hospital, fire station)?
  5. What kind of amenities does the apartment community offer?
  6. Where will you park your car?
  7. Does the community have a pet policy?  Is there a pet deposit? What amenities might the community have for pets?
  8. How are general noise levels in the unit you are considering? Is the unit located close to the street or a common space?
  9. How is maintenance handled in the apartment community? Is assistance available for after-hours needs at night or on the weekend?
  10. How does the apartment community management work to prevent nuisances such as mold or pest problems?

Still searching for the perfect pad? See more articles on apartment hunting.


Other questions to ask before you sign a lease:

  1. When is rent due, and how do you pay it?
  2. How much is the security deposit?  When/how will you get it back?
  3. What is the penalty for breaking the lease early?
  4. How much notice do you have to give before moving out at the end of the lease?
  5. Are there any outstanding maintenance problems that need to be taken care of before you move in? If so, when will they be fixed?
  6. What changes are you allowed to make to the apartment?  (For example, can you repaint the walls or hang pictures?)


Get your money right: Read our articles on budgeting and saving.

While you’ll want the community management or landlord to answer most of these questions, you may get additional perspective from your future neighbors or other people who have lived in the apartment community, as well.

8 thoughts on “What to Ask Before You Rent

  1. To Whom It May Concern: Thank you so much for your wonderful and detailed list on what to consider when renting a new apartment. It has been over 33 years since living in an apartment and I am welcoming this new experience! I had all the same questions in the back of my mind that you listed in terms of making my new home liveable and convenient. Thank so much for this “On the Mark” information. I have found the most perfect apartment that’s convenient, as well as close to places that I visit.

    • Thank you, Octavia! Glad the information is informative and useful — and that your apartment living experience is enjoyable!

  2. I have lived in houses all my life and this is what I really needed. I have no experience in looking for apartments and this is a great start. GC

  3. Thanks for this information. It is really helpful. I have lived in apartments before living in a house and now I am going back to living in an apartment. Both have their benefits and reading this information on what to look for and ask is very good for getting back into the atmosphere of apartment hunting.

  4. This information is good, but what can I do if I am looking for apartment and doing a job search at the same time? I am relocating from Little Rock, AR to St. Louis, Mo and shifting between job sites and apartment hunting.

  5. I thank you so much for putting these questions in print, it keeps me fro making another BIG MISTAKE in moving into another apartment. Again think you so very much!

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