Finding the perfect apartment for rent in Phoenix, AZ, is no easy feat. There are many types of apartments in Phoenix, and each has something different to offer. Just thinking about all the different things you need to know about each can be overwhelming.
To help you prepare for the journey, here are important questions to ask when apartment hunting. Make sure to ask these questions to both the person providing the tour as well as any tenants you may encounter.
Lease & Rent
- How much is rent?
- How often and under what circumstances does it increase?
This is one of the more obvious set of questions, but it is important to remember to ask even if you already have an idea of the cost. How the person answers the questions will tell you a lot about the dynamic of the apartment complex.
For example, if the answer provided is one figure or multiple figures within the same range, you know that the apartments are all relatively the same. If the answers instead have a significant range, then you know there are different types of apartments within the property or that there are several factors that affect what you pay.
It is also important to ask about price changes in the future. While the initial rent price may be a good deal, it won’t help your wallet in the long run if the property is known to implement rent increases frequently.
- How long is the lease?
- Are there lease length options?
- Can I sublease?
- Is there a penalty for terminating the lease early?
Know the terms of the lease options offered and know them well. It may seem like no big deal to commit to living in one place for a certain amount of time, but you have to take into consideration possible life changes
If you know that there are factors in your life that may cause you to move in the future – such as a steady relationship, sick family member, possible job offer, etc. – make sure you know how strict your lease is and if there are ways to get out of paying any termination fees.
- Am I required to have renter’s insurance?
- Does the property work with a limited amount of insurers?
- Has the property ever had to file a claim with a tenant’s insurance?
It’s not uncommon for apartment properties to require their tenants have renters insurance, especially liability insurance that will cover costs if the tenant is responsible for damages done to the dwelling. There are three kinds of renters insurance so make sure to ask what kind is acceptable.
Also, some properties may choose only to accept certain insurance agencies, so it’s good to know beforehand if you’ll be limited to doing business with certain companies.
Knowing if a claim has ever been filed is also helpful because it lets you know how accidents and damages are handled, as well as how picky the property managers are when it comes to accepting responsibility for damages.
- Are there any discounts or offers currently available?
It is never a bad idea to ask about any possible discounts or offers. Many apartment properties offer some referral discount program, and some even offer discounts for senior citizens and veterans.
The Building & Maintenance
- What facilities are offered?
- What are the rules regarding using them?
The cost of onsite facilities is typically added to your rent so you might as well know what you’re paying for. Ask about any special rules, so you avoid any problems or possible fines.
- How are maintenance requests handled?
- How long does it take for a repair to happen?
If maintenance requests seem like a tedious hassle or tend to take a long time to complete, you may be better off looking elsewhere unless you’re a handyman. Not only does this show poor maintenance management, it also shows that you won’t be able to rely on the staff to help you with future repairs, at least not as soon as you may need them.
- Are smoke alarms included in the apartment?
- Who is responsible for maintaining them?
- Are they connected to the local fire department?
Smoke alarms are standard in most apartment buildings but who takes care of them can vary. In some cases the maintenance workers are tasked with checking them on a consistent basis and changing the batteries; in others, it’s the tenant’s responsibility. To avoid a dangerous situation with a faulty smoke alarm, make sure to ask who is responsible for the alarm’s condition.
- What modifications are allowed? Which are not?
- Will making changes affect if I receive my deposit back?
Apartment regulations usually allow you to add your sense of style to your apartment, but it may come at a cost. To avoid losing your deposit or possibly an additional fee, ask what you are allowed to change, add or remove.
- What is the entering policy?
- Are tenants informed prior?
- Who has access to my apartment?
If you value your privacy, ask about who has access to your apartment and when it is considered appropriate to enter. If it seems like management has no regard for your privacy, it may be a good idea to look elsewhere.
- How old is the building?
- Are there any problems with the building or property?
- Are any major renovations expected?
You don’t want to move into a place that is too old or is likely renovating soon. An older apartment building typically means more problems with old plumbing and the structure itself. It also means it may be up for renovations soon and that usually means construction, loud noises, and strangers on the property and possibly in your apartment.
- How are the schools in the area?
- Where are they?
This is one of the more important questions to ask when apartment hunting, whether you have school-aged children or not. If you do have children in school, you get to find out about what schools are nearby, how close they are and possibly what other thinks about them. If you don’t have children at school, this question tells you what spots to avoid at what times.
School areas mean stricter vigilance of traffic. There will most likely be a policing unit nearby making sure drivers obey the speed limit, are not on their phones and are in no way endangering the children.
- How is cell phone reception in the area?
- Which cell providers have the best/worst coverages in this area?
If you’re going to be living in the area, you might as well know whether you have a cell service provider that works there. It may seem like the age of dead zones is gone, but not all areas receive great service all the time.
- What is the crime rate in this area?
- What types of crimes do you hear about most often?
- Has breaking and entering ever been a problem?
- How involved is the local police station with this area?
You always want to ask general safety questions to get a feel for the area and to determine if it offers an environment you’re comfortable with.
- What are the seasonal problems in this area?
Depending on where, how and when the apartments were built, some seasons might present more problems than others. Flooding during spring may be a problem in areas built with older or poorly built sewer systems. Winter may be a problem in older buildings with plumbing systems that may freeze.
If you want to avoid seasonal surprises or aren’t up to dealing with things like that every year it’s best to ask before signing the lease.
- How is traffic?
- What areas are busy intersections and when?
Traffic seems to be everyone’s No. 1 complaint. If you can’t avoid, it’s best to know about it and how to work around ahead of time, especially in a new, unfamiliar area.
- Are pets allowed?
- Does having a pet raise rent or deposit costs?
In cases where pets are allowed, there are usually rules in place with regards to which pets are appropriate to live on the property and, in some cases, mean an additional cost.
- How many parking spots am I entitled to?
- Is garage parking an option?
Depending on the property, you may be limited to only one parking spot, or you may have the option of obtaining more, possibly at an additional cost. There may also be options when it comes to parking such as covered or garage parking.
Nowadays, when parking is severely limited in many places, it is important to ask about the situation, especially if there’s a chance it can affect your monthly rent payment.
- How are package deliveries handled?
No one wants to be left wondering what happened to their package, so make sure to ask how deliveries are handled before you are left wondering whether your package was stolen or simply left in a designated area you don’t know about.
- Who are the local cable and internet providers?
Some properties and areas have deals with certain providers, and in others there may only be one or two providers to choose from.
- What is the guest policy
Many properties ask to be informed about guests who will be staying for longer than short visits. Verify what is considered a short visit as guests may be considered tenants after a designated time and rent may be increased.