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.
2. Check out the cell phone reception in all the rooms so you don't get stuck taking your calls outside.
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.
4. And talk to your potential neighbors about your landlord's responsiveness.
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.
6. If you have a roommate, sign separate leases so you don't get stuck covering the rent if they can't afford it.
7. Take notes and photos before you move in so you aren't penalized for damages that weren't yours in the first place.
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.
9. Ask about the cost of breaking a lease, even if you don't plan on moving any time soon.
10. Make sure repairs are done before you move in so you don't end up paying the price later.
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!
12. Measure the rooms before you move in so you're sure you have enough room for everything you own.
13. Look up tenant laws in your state so you don't agree to any terms that are outside of your actual obligations.
14. Check every inch of your apartment so you're sure the landlord isn't just addressing visible issues.
15. Check out the crime rates of the local area so you aren't moving in somewhere that has regular break-ins.
16. Ask about their policy on decorating so you don't get fined for trying to make your place homey.
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.
18. Consider what direction your windows face so you get as much sunlight as you want.
19. Call the electric company to find out how much you can expect to pay every month, and factor that into your budget.
20. Inspect the place for gaps in the baseboards or holes in the wall that may point to infestations.
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.