Savvy Miss' Tips for Renters

If you think you've found The Place, you'll want to schedule a meeting with the landlord/leasing agent. You need to make a good impression, provide the landlord with information he or she needs, and ask the questions you need answered. Being prepared will not only make a positive impression, but will make sure you get all the 411 you need to make your decision.

When you call to schedule a visit and/or interview, make sure to get the name and direct phone number of the person you will be meeting with. When you meet with a prospective landlord, take advantage of this time to get answers to your questions. Dress neatly for your interview and bring all the documents you need. Unless you are renting with a roommate, it is best to go to your appointment alone.

Chances are you will deal with a number of people in the course of your apartment search. Pay attention in your dealing with each, from the receptionist to the leasing agent, as this is a pretty good indicator of what your future dealings with them will be like. Are they friendly and accommodating? Do they answer your questions honestly and completely?

Seeing the actual place probably answered a lot of questions, but there are still some hidden ones that you need to ask the landlord. The following lists should help you get down to business.

Doin' the deed

  • How much is the rent?
  • How much is the deposit, and how much of it is refundable?
  • On what conditions will you not get your security deposit at the end of the lease term?
  • What is the policy of late rent/utilities/etc.?
  • Can rent be paid individually among roommates? Can everyone sign separate leases?
  • Is a cosigner required to sign the lease?
  • When are the move-in/move-out dates? How much notice must you give the landlord before you move?
  • What is the policy on subleasing? Lease renewal?
  • How is rent to be paid (by mail or by giving it directly to the landlord or management office)?

Mr. Fix It

  • Does the landlord or maintenance person live on the premises?
  • Is there a 24-hour maintenance service? Who would you call with an emergency after hours? Is there a phone number at which the landlord or superintendent can be reached in case of an emergency?
  • What is the policy on maintenance of both minor and major damages?
  • Are there any known bug or rodent problems? What are the extermination policies?
  • Does the apartment contain lead paint?
  • Have there been any major repairs or renovations done in the past year? Are there any planned for the upcoming year?
  • Who will be responsible for repairs, including small ones?
  • Is a discount available if you do maintenance yourself?
  • Who takes care of the common ground areas?
  • Who is responsible for removing snow and ice in the winter and garbage year-round?


  • What utilities must you pay?
  • Who pays for utilities and how much do they cost?
  • Is heat included in the rent, or do you pay for it? (If you are responsible for the costs of heating the apartment, get more than an approximation of what these costs are likely to be?ask to see a statement.)
  • Is the apartment heated with gas or with electricity?
  • Are janitorial services offered?


  • What is the policy/cost for parking? How many spaces are available?
  • What is your pet policy? Are there extra charges for having a pet?
  • What are the nearest grocery stores, coffeehouses, dry cleaners, health clubs, restaurants, bars, banks, gas stations, libraries, and parks?
  • How close is public transportation?
  • Are most of the other tenants in the building single, married, or families? Professionals or students?
  • Is there additional storage space elsewhere?
  • Have you or when will you change the lock on the door from the last tenant?

  • ******************
    This article was reprinted with permissions from, the free website community dedicated to connecting, empowering and informing women.

    Return to the Renters Guide