Whether you are searching for your first apartment or your fifteenth, you are going to want to prevent any unexpected surprises. Where do you start? What should you be looking for? How do you know it is going to be the right home for you? Finding a new home can be overwhelming if you are not properly prepared. Sometimes, you can overlook the important factors in making sure your new apartment is going to be the best for you.

Below are a few tips to help assist you when searching for a new apartment:

·         What is the rent? You want to make sure that the total cost of your monthly rent fits your budget while still allowing you to live comfortably. In certain situations, the apartments you are looking at may be offering discounts. You will want to make sure you do your research before picking a new home. You may qualify for a free month, discounted security deposit, etc. These are all things that would benefit you, your happiness, and of course your wallet!

·         What does the rent include? When you have a budget, it helps to know what your rent covers and what additional costs you will have to consider. For example, utilities could be included in the rent but you might have to pay for cable and internet. This takes us to amenities…

·         What are the amenities? What do they cost? Make sure the property you are looking at has all of the amenities you need. If laundry, parking, and a gym are important to you then be sure to confirm you will have access to those. Also, make sure that you understand whether the amenities are included in the rent or if they are an extra charge to you. Is parking included? Is it an additional monthly cost to you? Can you purchase another parking stall if you need it? These are very important things to explore prior to renting.

·         What is the security deposit? Most properties will require a security deposit or a damage deposit. This can be less than, or equal to, a month of rent. If you would like to get your deposit back at the end of your lease, it is important to understand what the deposit covers and what the company you are renting with would identify as damages.

·         What is the pet policy? Most apartment buildings have a pet policy. If you have a furry friend, you will want to know the details about the pet policy before you commit to an apartment. Many buildings will require a pet fee. Ask the leasing agent to explain the pet policy to you in detail.

·         What should I consider during my viewing? It is easy to be overwhelmed during your viewing. A few things to consider:

1.      Cell phone reception. Thanks to cell phones, the home phone is becoming obsolete. Make sure you are getting good reception inside your unit!

2.      Check the windows and doors. Do they shut and lock properly?

3.      Check the water taps. How is the water pressure? Does the water get hot quickly and stay hot? There is nothing fun about running out of hot water before you are able to rinse!

4.      Check the locations of the electrical outlets. You want to make sure that power is accessible where you need it.

5.      Check the storage spaces. Closets, cabinets, and drawers are essential when it comes to choosing your new home. There are apartments that include lockers and other storage options for larger items like bicycles!

6.      Check the appliances. Do they work? Open the fridge, turn the stove on and run the dishwasher. You want to make sure that the unit is equipped to your needs. Ask about the age of the appliances and when they were last switched out. Find out who you should contact if the appliances were to malfunction. Most rental companies will have maintenance staff with 24 hour on-call services for emergencies.

·         Making your space your own? What is allowed? When it comes to decorating or interior design, not all of us are as gifted as Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper”. If you want to be able to add your own special touch to your new home, you should confirm what you are allowed to do in your new apartment. Ask the leasing agent if you are allowed to add a splash of paint or hang up pictures when customizing your new space.

·         Is there on-site maintenance staff? How is the landscaping? Walking up to the property when you arrive to your viewing will give you an idea on what to expect in terms of maintenance and groundskeeping. Check out the common areas and how they are maintained. How does the outside of the building look? Has the grass been cut? Is there litter everywhere? This will help you understand how the building is managed. For townhomes, it is important to know if you are responsible for things like snow removal and mowing the lawn.

·         What is in the neighborhood? Explore the surroundings and the neighborhood. Are you the type who wants to be in a quiet, ravine type setting? Or would you prefer to be close to the hustle of downtown? Location, location, location! Are you looking to be closer to work or school? Take a trip between the apartment and where you spend the majority of your time. This can be a factor for you when getting to and from your home. It also helps to find out what else is in the neighborhood such as shopping, restaurants, and access to other points of interest. Do your research! Facebook and Google can also help give you an idea of the property and what other renters are saying.

·         Understand your lease. If you have done your homework and are ready to make the commitment, ask the leasing agent to thoroughly explain the lease to you. This should include details regarding property rules and charges for breaking your lease, charges for paying rent late, and charges for replacement items such as keys. Also, confirm who is required to be on the lease, what is involved in the move-in and move-out inspections, etc. These are some of the things you want to confirm and understand before signing your rental agreement.

Searching for a new home can be very overwhelming. These tips and the appropriate preparation prior to starting your search will help ease your stress and keep you on the right path to finding the apartment of your dreams!

If there are any other tips and tricks you feel would be beneficial for searching for a new apartment, comment below.

This post was written by Midwest Property Management. Midwest Property Management is Western Canada’s largest privately held apartment rental company in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. We serve a variety of cities within Western Canada, including: Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Yellowknife, and Vancouver.

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