15 Questions to Ask When Touring an Apartment

Written by a VeryApt Expert
July 13, 2023

Moving into a new apartment is stressful, and much of the stress occurs during the initial apartment search. 

Here at Veryapt, we want to make the moving process as easy as possible so you can focus on the final steps of moving…making your new space feel like home.

One way to ensure your new home fits your lifestyle is to ask the right questions while touring. Whether your tour is virtual, video, or in-person, your leasing agent is there to assist. For virtual and video tours, informing your agent of what you wish to learn more about is beneficial. In-person tours can also move swiftly with a prepared list of questions that expand on your research.

15 Question to Ask During an Apartment Tour

Your apartment is not a new car. It is your home. Don’t get sold short! Here is a simple guide on what to ask on your next apartment tour!

1. How much is the monthly rent? How often is it expected to increase?

Finding an apartment that fits your needs while still in your price range can be grueling. Prices and availability change so often. It’s wise to double-check the monthly rent for the unit being shown. Calculating a budget with room for moving fees and monthly expenses is essential. That way, you don’t fall in love with an apartment outside your budget. 

If you plan to stay in your apartment for multiple lease terms, question the property’s rent increases. How often is rent increased? By how much? And why? Upgrades and a competitive market can often lead to rent increases. 

2. How long is the lease term? What is the policy for subletting?

Are you looking for short-term or long-term housing? For short-term living, it will be best to look into short-term lease availability. However, if availability is sparing, properties can offer subletting options to cover your rent while moving elsewhere. If you expect to be on the move before the end of your lease term, asking about the sublet policy during your tour can save you time and money in the long run.

3. Are utilities included in the rent? If not, what utilities are not included, and how much do they typically cost?

Often, renters are misled by the rent amount shown on listings by expecting to pay only that amount every month. Hidden costs come into play with utility expenses, such as gas, electricity, water, garbage, sewage, and internet/cable. Utility costs vary by apartment, property, location, and usage. Some properties may add their utility fees to the monthly rent, while others may request that you pay for your utilities through your electric company, internet provider, etc. When utilities are not included, your budget will be subject to changes, so be sure to stay aware of all additional costs. 

4. What additional fees are required (e.g., application fee, security deposit, amenity fees)?

Aside from monthly rent and utilities, renting a new apartment can come with additional fees that become apparent right before signing. Security deposits are refundable or non-refundable and are expected for the landlord’s financial protection against damages. Deposits can vary based on the property but are often the amount of the first and last months’ rent. Application fees will also be expected to cover the cost of background checks and processing costs on behalf of the landlord/management company. 

Other expenses may occur, such as amenity fees and renters insurance. Renters' insurance is not always required; however, for protections over liabilities and personal belongings, some properties may provide recommendations for insurance providers or include such information in the lease agreement. 

5. What is the minimum monthly income to qualify for approval?

The golden standard for most landlords is that“no more than 30% of a tenant’s gross income should go to rent.” Therefore, most properties require tenants’ gross income to be 3x the monthly rent. In certain cities and complexes, there is a chance that the minimum requirement is up to 5x the monthly rent, which could be supplemented with the help of a consignor. As requirements vary, checking your qualifications before settling on a unit is essential.

6. Is there a penalty for breaking the lease agreement?

Reading your lease agreement, like a terms and conditions contract, can be mundane. However, doing so can save you trouble in the future. Be sure to read your lease agreement and be aware of the contractual agreements you make with your landlord/management team. Your leasing agent may be unable to answer all of your contractual questions on tour, so stay connected and reach out while reading the agreement. For breaking a lease agreement, refer to Question #2 and stay current with your options for moving out early. 

7. How do I pay rent?

Recently, many properties are switching to online payment options instead of paper checks and mailing payments. When on tour, it is helpful to ask about their current payment methods and online accessibility for viewing rent due dates and renewal updates.

8. Is there on-site emergency maintenance?

Maintenance requests are a common occurrence when living in an apartment. Ask your landlord/management team what days your maintenance team is available. Some properties have 24-hour availability, while others have a workweek schedule. Tenant reviews are also helpful in learning more about the maintenance team’s expected response time.

To reduce your maintenance requests after move-in, ask about current maintenance issues your apartment unit may need and request action before move-in. 

9. What amenities are included?

The golden question is; what are the perks of renting at the property? Apartment listings are a great way to see what apartment and community amenities your unit offers. But remember, not all units are created equal! Ask your leasing agent what specific amenities your unit provides. 

Apartment amenity questions: What appliances (e.g., fridge, garbage disposal, dishwasher, oven/stove, microwave) come with the unit? When were the appliances last updated? Are there laundry facilities or washers/dryers in the unit? Are there windows for natural sunlight? How high are the ceilings?

Community amenity questions: Are there elevators in the building? Is there parking available? How much does parking cost? Is there bike storage or electric vehicle charging stations? Is the community non-smoking? If there is a pool, fitness center, etc., are they updated and available to all tenants? Where do tenants discard trash? Does the building recycle? Is there a package drop-off station?

10. Are there furnished units available?

If you want to save money on a short-term lease or temporary housing, a furnished apartment can be the best fit for you. Knowing if your apartment is furnished can help with the budgeting process and planning for moving expenses. 

11. How secure is the building?

Apartment communities usually require a key for entry, but it is a good idea to ask about the security measures put in place where you may be living. Some apartment complexes are gated, while others have security guards and cameras for emergencies. If necessary, purchasing a doorbell camera can bring you more peace of mind, especially when living alone or in a city. 

If you expect to receive many packages where you live, it can’t hurt to ask about the security of your community’s package-receiving process, too. 

12. How do I come in contact with management if I experience problems?

The community environment is one of the biggest obstacles to feeling comfortable in your new home. When having noisy neighbors or overflowing trash cans, your landlord/management team should be available to listen to your troubles. Communicating with management can occur through a resident portal or contacting the team by call, text, or email. 

13. What kind of decorations/alterations are allowed within the unit?

Making your new place feel like home is paramount, but you don’t want to end up paying for it in the end. Some student housing options do not allow holes to be made for hanging decorations or making significant alterations like painting walls. Be sure to ask about the limits of your alternations to get your security deposit back when you move out.

Bonus tip: take pictures of your apartment before altering your apartment so you are not held responsible for damages made before your move-in. 

14. What are the policies for pets and guests?

As most pet owners may know, breed restrictions, weight limits, and pet fees are standard for apartment communities. Ask your leasing agent about the fees, deposits, or monthly rent accompanying pet ownership in your building.

Specific complexes, such as luxury apartments, also have policies for guest visits. Depending on the building, asking about the maximum number of guests and parking available may be helpful. 

15. Are there any planned updates to the community?

Apartment communities are constantly changing, whether it is updates to the building or changing management. Upgrades to amenities and building structures can incur rent price increases or recurring noise disturbances. Asking ahead of time what changes they expect at the building may alter your decision on where to live. 

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