21 questions to ask before you rent an apartment.

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While renting doesn’t come with the same commitment as a mortgage, it is a contractual obligation – which means once you’re in, it can be hard to get out.

That’s why before you pick a property, it’s important to ask questions. Lots of questions.

Make sure you understand the terms of your rental agreement before you actually sign anything, so you can avoid unexpected surprises.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. When you’re apartment hunting, ask these 21 questions:

1. Is the unit I viewed the unit I will receive?
2. What will you do to prepare the unit before I move in?
3. Does the apartment have a working air conditioner? And heater?
4. What appliances are included?
5. What safety features, like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, are in place? And who is responsible for the upkeep?
6. How do you handle emergency repairs?
7. What changes can be made to the property? And will there be costs involved?
8. Where do I park? And what safety features does the parking area offer?
9. Where do guests park?
10. Are pets allowed? And if so, are there any restrictions? Or, if you’re not a pet person: Did the unit’s previous tenants have pets?
11. Who can enter my unit without notice? And under what circumstances?
12. How often are the locks changed?
13. Do you expect any new construction on the building or in the area in the near future (including road construction)?
14. What utilities or services are covered in the cost of the rent?
15. Are there any additional deposits or non-refundable fees?
16. What payment methods are accepted?
17. What is your late fee policy?
18. What is your subletting policy?
19. Will I be able to renew the lease or go month-to-month if I choose? What costs should I expect?
20. What are the costs if I break the lease?
21. Do you require renters insurance?

Tip: Even if your apartment complex doesn’t require renters insurance, they probably recommend it. And we do, too. Talk to an agent about how affordable it can be to protect your personal property.