What to Ask When Viewing Apartments

What to Ask When Viewing Apartments

So you’ve scoured the internet for Chicago apartment rentals for weeks and finally narrowed it down to your top choices. At this point, you’ll want to view the apartments. Whether you are looking for a Chicago apartment rental for the first time or you have before, it’s good to prepare questions for your viewing appointments. Asking these questions won’t mean that you don’t have to read the lease or do other research, but getting them answered before you commit can improve your odds of finding the right apartment for you.

Are Utilities Included? How Much Do They Normally Cost?

This might seem like an obvious question, but a lot of people forget to ask. You may have seen some of this information online, but ask for verification when you view the apartment in person. This is especially important if you are new to the area. You might be surprised to learn how much utilities cost for a Chicago rental versus where you used to live. 

The landlord or leasing agent should be able to answer your question with an idea of what similar units pay. Each Chicago apartment rental is different in what utilities will be included or not. Make sure you understand if you’re paying for all of the utilities or just a few. A $1,000 per month apartment with all utilities included could end up being a far better deal than a $850 per month apartment with each utility separately.

What Costs are Required to Move In?

Most landlords will require either the first month’s rent upfront or the first and last month’s rent. A security deposit is also almost always required. Make sure you are able to pay these fees upfront, otherwise you may need to look somewhere else.

What’s Your Application Process and Screening Criteria?

It’s good to know what kind of vetting process tenants go through before they move in. This may give you some assurance about who your neighbors are. It’s also good to prepare yourself for what information they are looking for from you. Instead of guessing, give the landlords the opportunity to lay out the process for you. Clarify if there are any application or screening fees, so you are not surprised. 

What is the Guest Policy?

Some Chicago apartment rentals have policies against long-term guests. If you think you may have someone stay for a long period of time (usually two weeks or more), you should understand what the policy is. This should be outlined in your lease, but it’s best to clarify the terms so you don’t accidentally violate them.

Where Will I Park My Car?

For Chicago apartment rentals, there are many different options for parking. Does rent include access to one or more parking spaces? Are the spots reserved or is it an open lot? If you have roommates, make sure you have enough parking spaces for each of your vehicles. If parking isn’t included in the rent, what are the alternatives? Will you have to park on the street? In nearby garages? Sometimes landlords will tell you street parking is easy to find, when in reality it isn’t. If street parking is what they have to offer, make sure you check it out yourself.

How Do I Pay Rent?

Today, most Chicago rentals and landlords have at least one electronic option for rent payments. However, they may be a convenience fee associated with paying that way. It could range from $1 to $5. That is why it may still make more sense to pay via a handwritten check either delivered to the leasing office or mailed to the landlord.

How Far In Advance Do I Need to Give Notice Before Moving Out?

In most cases, you are required to give between 30-60 days notice before moving out of your Chicago rental. If you don’t give notice in time, your lease might automatically renew or you might lose your security deposit.

Can I Sublet The Apartment? If Not, What is the Penalty for Breaking My Lease?

You never know when your job or personal life might require you to relocate on short notice. In case this happens, it’s a good idea to know your options. Some apartments for rent in Chicago do not allow subletting, considering it a breach of contract. Make sure you know what your options are and what the consequences are of having to break your contract.

Are Pets Allowed? Do You Require a Fee or Deposit?

Many apartments for rent in Chicago advertise as having a “no pets allowed” policy, but will handle exceptions on a case-by-case basis. If there is a pet policy in place, make sure you ask if there are any prohibited breeds, pet deposits, or monthly fees.

Under Which Circumstances Will My Security Deposit Not Be Refunded?

Many tenants do not ask this question before moving into an apartment. They are then shocked when they move out and do not receive their security deposit back. Not cleaning the apartment thoroughly enough upon moving out is sometimes enough for the landlord to keep some of the deposit. A general rule to get your full deposit back is that your apartment should be left the way it was when you moved in.

What is the Procedure for Maintenance Requests?

If your landlord can’t give you a definitive answer to his question, you can probably assume they aren’t great with upkeep and might even ignore your requests. A proactive landlord who will repair things on time is the one you want to rent from. In addition, while you are taking a look around, make note of the condition of the property. This should give you a little bit of insight into the maintenance habits of the landlord.

There are a lot of things to consider when viewing apartments for rent in Chicago. Asking these questions before you get too far into the process will protect yourself. It will also prevent misunderstandings once you have moved in. If you cover all your bases now, you will have less headaches in the future. Contact us today so we can help you find the right apartment 

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