As exciting as it is to think about the prospect of a new apartment, it can also be really daunting to have to figure out exactly where you will live next. Let's say your current situation isn't the best. You probably don't want to land in a place that's as bad or even worse. Maybe you've learned your lesson, and you want to be really thorough when touring your next potential rental. But aside from the really obvious things like the location, which floor you're on, and the terms of your lease, you should know what to look for. Here are seven things you should be aware of when you're on your next tour.
If everything inside checks out at your potential new apartment unit, you should definitely take a look outside. Look for the waste pickup area. If there's garbage strewn about and piled everywhere, chances are nobody cares about how things look. It's called the "broken window theory" where a mess begins and people just stop caring about doing the same thing. If a trash area is tidy, that means tenants care how things look (and smell).
The apartment building you're looking at might look great during daylight hours, but what about at nighttime? Nobody really thinks about this very much, but it's important. Is it well-lit? Are all the bulbs and light fixtures working or are they broken or burned out? Are parking lots, pathways, hallways, and stairwells well lit? Make a point of coming back at night to check things out to be sure you're making the right decision.
If you're looking at an apartment, and you're serious about it. Ask for tours during different times and days. If you can schedule two of them, one during the day on the weekend and one during the evening, that's ideal. This would give you an idea of what to expect from your neighbors. Noise is one of those things that can totally ruin your living situation, so it makes sense to figure out exactly how noisy things can get. There's no guarantee you'll capture the worst of it on your tour, but at least you can get some idea.
Take a close look at the entire apartment. Walls, trim, window seals, under-sink plumbing, tile caulking, cabinet hinges and handles, etc. If you can spot shoddy repairs that the landlord has made, chances are he or she isn't going to be remotely serious about doing a good job for you as a tenant. If hardware is mismatched, the paint looks questionable, and the plumbing is rusty, then you know they're doing things on the cheap. Watch out.
Sometimes beggars can't be choosers. If you want to pay less rent, you might have to compromise on a few things, but having modern appliances is important. We're not talking about expecting the latest, state-of-the-art appliances in your place, but they should be relatively new, meaning they were purchased in the last 5 to 10 years. If you see something seriously old, you should wonder how well the place is managed and supplied.
Not everyone notices bad or weird smells when they tour an apartment. You're so busy trying to figure out if the place looks right that you might ignore a subtly bad smell. Take note of the smell in the lobby. Are people cooking crazy stuff that gets everywhere? How about the bathroom? Is there a moldy or mildewy odor that's present even a little bit? If you notice anything that's off, or if your landlord masked the smell with heavy deodorizer, you should figure things out before you sign the lease.