When you go into any sort of high pressure situation whether it be an interview or seeing the place you plan on living for awhile come prepared. If you figure you’ll just show up and wing it you’ll almost certainly forget to ask what’s important. Don’t worry, I got your back. Here are a few simple questions you should ask the landlord while you’re being given a tour. Rent prices are almost always negotiable, so if there’s any major problems remember that so you can do some haggling.
1When was this place wired? Can I see the fuse box? – We’re living in a time when more power is being consumed than ever before. If you’re a geek or just really into technology you don’t want to move into a place, and turn your home theater setup while your computer boots up just to trip the breaker. Which is exactly what’s going to happen if the fuse box looks like it’s from the cold war.
2Is parking available? If so, is it included or separate? – Believe it or not just because there’s a lot attached to a place doesn’t mean it’s for the tenants. Sometimes low-rises have condos on the higher levels, and the parking spaces are totally owned by those people. If parking isn’t included or available check with local businesses nearby to see if they rent spaces. Because odds are at least one of them is going to.
3How old is the property? Where any major renovations done? – If the property is older it’s likely that there’s still a lot of original bits there. For instance, they probably kept the plaster walls. Which crack if you try to hang anything. The pipes are also likely to be pretty old, so the water quality is probably shotting. Odds are at least one major original building component is still in use that’s going to be problem for everyone in the building. My sister lived in a place with poor plumping work. They thought the place was haunted because the faucet would turn on/off randomly. That’s actually caused when water pressure isn’t being regulated properly. Sorry, no ghosts are in your renovated doctor’s office apartment. Just crappy maintenance workers.
4Are all of the appliances in working order? – If you do any amount of cooking you want to make sure that stove is in working order. If the thing looks like it’s from the 70s it probably is, and has seen more than it’s far share of abuse in it’s day. Ask if you can see the kitchen first, so while you’re being toured you can see how long it takes the oven to get to 350. Also, check those burners to see how they’re doing. If they’re old electric burners one of them probably wont work. Don’t forget to turn on every faucet and check the shower head. I’ve known people who’s showers were so appalling only a dribble would trickle down.
5Is there any major repairs/renovations planned to take place within the next year? – Here’s a major haggling point. If you work from home like myself that potential noise problem is going to effect you more than if you just use the place as a crash pad. Use major upcoming projects to your advantage when you talk price. Bring up you work from home and that number will come back, but don’t lie because the landlord checks that stuff out.
6Who’s responsible for maintenance? What do I when there’s an emergency? – Nothing’s worse than thinking someone’s got you covered when they don’t. Especially when you’re running a tight ship like most first time renters. Something as simple as a clogged drain could put you back a couple hundred bucks. Which I don’t know about you might just put me in the red.
7How long has this unit been empty? Were the last folks here for long? – A place may smell nice, look clean, and have paint not on the windows but that doesn’t mean much. If tenants are constantly cycling in-and-out there’s likely some problems with the unit. You don’t want to get conned into paying top-dollar just to find out the neighbor next to your bedroom wall is an aspiring musician. Nor have plumbing problems appear within a month, and then learn this is a terminal issue that wont get fixed without a major renovation.
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