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    21 Little (But Life-Saving) Things Anyone Apartment Hunting Needs To Know

    Check all the outlets, visit at different times, and talk to the neighbors.

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community what they wished they knew before signing their first lease, and they had a lot of feedback. Here are some of the most helpful tips:

    1. Pay attention to the placement of the electrical outlets — and check that they work.

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    Do you know you’ll need an outlet in the bathroom for a hair dryer? Make sure a working one is close enough to a counter for that to work. Check all of them before signing the lease.

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    2. Check out the cell phone reception in all the rooms so you don't get stuck taking your calls outside.

    Emily Shwake

    3. Be wary of a lease that entitles the landlord to more than their basic rights.

    Do not sign a lease that dictates visitors, cleaning habits, etc. It's a huge red flag when it comes to what the landlord-tenant relationship will be like.

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    4. And talk to your potential neighbors about your landlord's responsiveness.

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    If you can, try to talk to another person who lives there without your potential landlord being present to find out how well the building is maintained. I saw my apartment once before applying and only met my landlord during that time, so when I moved in, I didn't know that his promises of weekly property maintenance was more like every month, if that. We had a narrow, metal staircase to go down to reach our garages that got really icy during the winter. The other renters and I eventually had to chip and salt them ourselves.

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    5. Get to know the neighbors a bit if possible so you can decide if you're going to be able to tolerate living near them.

    My upstairs neighbors were on vacation when we toured and signed the lease. They had serious marital problems and we could hear them arguing WHILE having sex at literally any time of the day. It could be happening at Monday at three in the morning, or Wednesday at four in the afternoon. It was completely unpredictable.

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    6. If you have a roommate, sign separate leases so you don't get stuck covering the rent if they can't afford it.

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    If you are going to live with a roommate, see if they will do separate leases, just in case the other person can't pay rent. You won't get screwed for it.

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    7. Take notes and photos before you move in so you aren't penalized for damages that weren't yours in the first place.

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    Make a list of and photograph any damages that are there when you move in so you don't get charged for damages when you move out!

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    8. And do a walk-through of the apartment with the landlord at the end of your lease so you aren't held responsible for damages you didn't cause.

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    9. Ask about the cost of breaking a lease, even if you don't plan on moving any time soon.

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    Our lease said that to break our lease, we would immediately have to pay all the remaining rent at once! We haven’t needed to break the lease yet — but you never know what could happen. Know your options.

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    10. Make sure repairs are done before you move in so you don't end up paying the price later.

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    My landlord promised that a leak in the ceiling would be fixed before I moved in. Five years later, I left because of mold caused by — you guessed it — a leaking ceiling.

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    11. Follow up on discussions with your landlord with emails or get receipts so you can have time-stamped records in case they don't follow through on any agreements.

    I gave my landlord a written notice that I would not be renewing my lease. They then proceeded to charge me for two extra months rent after I had moved out, claiming they never got such notice from me. Always get a receipt or something similar!

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    12. Measure the rooms before you move in so you're sure you have enough room for everything you own.

    Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

    You don't want to realize that you don't have enough room for all your stuff when you're moving in.

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    13. Look up tenant laws in your state so you don't agree to any terms that are outside of your actual obligations.

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    14. Check every inch of your apartment so you're sure the landlord isn't just addressing visible issues.

    Ekaterina79 / Getty Images

    Landlords always clean the obvious places when people come to see a place. Check the kitchen and bathroom cabinets for filth or water damage.

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    15. Check out the crime rates of the local area so you aren't moving in somewhere that has regular break-ins.

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    16. Ask about their policy on decorating so you don't get fined for trying to make your place homey.

    Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

    Can you paint? Hang curtains? Use thumbtacks?

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    17. Hang around the place at different times during the day so you know if the area gets noisy.

    I have to sleep with a noise machine blasting because multiple neighborhood dogs bark incessantly all night long. Every. Single. Night.

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    18. Consider what direction your windows face so you get as much sunlight as you want.

    Kayla Suazo / BuzzFeed

    My apartment was so dark and gloomy that it affected my mood, and made it harder to wake up in the morning. When I moved into my next apartment, I made sure to factor sunlight into my decision.

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    19. Call the electric company to find out how much you can expect to pay every month, and factor that into your budget.

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    20. Inspect the place for gaps in the baseboards or holes in the wall that may point to infestations.

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    Look under the kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure the wall has been sealed around the piping, and see if there are any big gaps between the baseboards and the floor. These are the main places roaches and rodents will find their way in. Stuff any large holes or gaps in the walls with steel wool and use caulk to seal your baseboards if you can’t get the landlord to take care of it.

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    21. Ask a family member if they'll co-sign before you start looking for an apartment if you know your income isn't high enough to get approved.

    I moved to NYC after college and one thing I wish someone told me was how important it was to have a guarantor. They expect you to make a salary that is ten times the rent which is basically impossible as an entry-level employee. Make sure you or someone you're moving in with has a family member who makes that much and is willing to be your guarantor.

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