Be positive you know what you are renting. An apartment may initially look impressive and appear to have everything you want. Don't be like the student who chose an apartment because it had lots of windows, only to discover that they were all painted shut. It is usually the minor inconveniences that add up to make your apartment turn into something less than anticipated.

If you decide you like a particular dwelling, we recommend that you first check with the present or previous tenants to get their reaction to how responsive the landlord was to emergency and non-emergency repairs.Ask about security deposits and lease stipulations as well. Renters should consider the following before signing a lease:

Costs and Utilities

  • What are the requirements for a full refund of your security deposit?
  • Does the landlord live on the premise, or is a maintenance person living there?
  • Who pays the utilities? What is the average cost per month?
  • If you pay electricity, what appliances are electric?
  • Is the heating system gas or electric? Who pays for this? Does it work?
  • Is there ample water pressure in both the kitchen and bathroom?


  • Does the building seem clean and well maintained on both the exterior and interior?
  • If the apartment is furnished, is the furniture in good condition and adequate for your needs?
  • Are there ample wall outlets? Do the light fixtures work? Will you need additional lighting?
  • Are there enough windows in the apartment? Do they lock? Are screens provided?
  • If the apartment is carpeted, is it clean and in good condition?


  • Does the building have a security system?
  • Does the apartment building have a fire escape? If not, where is the nearest emergency exit?
  • Does the apartment door have an adequate lock?
  • What happens when you lose your apartment keys?
  • Who do you call for an emergency or repairs?
  • Is there a secure mailbox?


  • Are there laundry facilities in the building? If not, is there one nearby?
  • Is there parking available? If yes, is it free? If not, where can you park?
  • How far are convenience and grocery stores from the apartment?
  • Are there stipulations regarding guests, parties, etc.?
  • Is there ample study room for all occupants in the apartment?
  • Are there limits in the number of occupants in the apartment?