Whether you are a student looking or a place to live, or your job has transplanted you, chances are you are searching for that "perfect" apartment. Whether you decide to look for an apartment on your own through classified ads or use the services of a real estate professional, think about your needs and preferred location before you make any decisions.
The BBB reminds you that once you've located the ideal apartment, make certain you understand your responsibilities as an apartment tenant and read your lease carefully before signing the contract. The lease includes responsibilities for both parties. The lease should include the following information:
» Specifics on how all maintenance and repair concerns are handled and within what timeframe. That includes who to contact and how. Do you have put the request in writing or can you call or text?
» The conditions under which your rent or other fees can be increased during your lease term.
» Specifics on who is responsible for repair of all appliances, fixtures and furnishings that are included with the apartment. For example, some communities include light bulb replacement as the landlord's responsibility. Whose responsibility is it to change the air conditioner filter?
» How many persons may occupy the apartment, and does the figure allow for any anticipated growth in your household? Keep in mind that occupancy rates are often set by local ordinances.
» Information about whether you are allowed to sublet your unit if you want to move before the lease is up or if you plan on being away for a lengthy period.
» Information about relenting fees charged to you in the event you default on the lease. This amount is often 85 percent of your monthly rental rate. However, many companies charge additional fees such as remaining rent left on the lease term, making total charges amount to several thousand dollars in some cases. Failing to pay these charges can affect your ability to rent another apartment or purchase a home in the future as it usually shows up in your credit report .
» A notice about whether pets are allowed and specifics about pet deposits and fees. What are the refund policies?
» The conditions of your security deposit. Security deposits are usually required and offset the landlord's cost of repairing any property damage. What does your security deposit cover and what are the conditions for a refund?
» Ensure that any oral promises made by the leasing agent are stipulated in the contract as well.
» Find out if you are limited to using certain service providers for services such as cable or Internet. A one-year lease term can feel like 10 if you're forced to use a service provider you are not happy with.
» While not always possible, find out if you can view the actual apartment you plan to rent before applying.
Upon move-in, do not forget to document your apartment's move-in condition with the facility manager. Note each and every flaw or defect on your move-in condition form so that you aren't held responsible for these damages later. It's advisable to also take photos of your unit prior to move-in so that you have documentation available if a dispute were to arise between you and the landlord after move-out.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.