Precautions suggested in apartment hunting

The apartment hunting season for next fall will soon be in full force. This and next week’s columns focus on precautions you can take to ensure the dwelling you desire is worthy of your expectations.

First and foremost, ask questions about the apartment you are considering renting. If your prospective landlord seems reluctant to answer, ask the present tenants in the complex. Besides questions about the amount of rent and security deposit required, consider asking or finding out about the following:

Is there a resident manager? How does one contact the manager or owner for repairs? Are laundry facilities available? Are there enough washers and dryers for the whole complex and what is their condition? (Consumers’ Union suggests a ratio of one washer and dryer for every 10 apartments.) What is the condition of the hallways and stairways? Are they well lit in the p.m.? Have there been many break-ins in the complex? Is there sufficient security? Do the exterior doors lock securely?

Are there bugs and/or rodents? Are the plumbing fixtures adequate? Is the heat adequate in the winter? Do you have your own thermostat to control the temperature? How well are the premises insulated? What utilities are to be paid by the tenant? What is the average monthly cost for these utilities? Is there a charge for parking, utilities, television antenna or cable hookup, or late payment of rent?

Do the windows open easily? Do they have screens, storm windows? Are they in good operating order? Do the windows have locks on them? Is the flooring solid? Is the carpet stained or worn out? Has the landlord agreed to replace it? Are the ceilings clean? Are there any water stains indicating leaks?

Are the walls decent? Are you permitted to hang paintings or plants? Can you hear everything that happens in the adjacent apartment? Is the building soundproof? Is there adequate storage space? Are there enough cabinets? Is there adequate ventilation? Exhaust fans in the kitchen, in the bath? Do you see mold anywhere?

Can you find a place to grill outdoors that is convenient? Are there restrictions on guests, parking, pets, etc.? Is there adequate parking? Is there space to put your bicycle/motorcycle? Are parking lots and sidewalks well-lit at night? Do mailboxes lock? Is there a place where packages (Parcel Post, UPS) may be dropped off?

If there is a shower, is there a shower curtain or provision for one? Are there towel rods in the bathroom? Are there enough electrical outlets? Is there enough counter space in the kitchen? Is the dwelling on or near the Huskie Bus route?

Second, inspect the actual premises you intend to lease, if at all possible, and don’t be afraid to ask to reinspect it later, you probably overlooked things the first time. If you are shown a model apartment, get the landlord’s written assurance that the size and condition of your apartment is the same or equivalent to the size and condition of the model.

Tips on negotiating fair lease terms with your landlord are the subject of next week’s column.