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Moving Out Of The Dorms – Questions To Ask Potential Landlords

Now that you know who you are going to be living with and the price range you can afford, the next step is actually finding your house or apartment.  This can be exciting and fun, or a hassle, depending on how you do it. As I said in Step 1 Craigslist, the Chronicle, Googling “Apartments for rent in Bozeman”, checking rental agency listings all have different units available.  There is no one stop site or place to get a full listing of every available unit.  If you try several sources you are more likely to find a place that’s perfect for your needs.  When you talk with the person about the unit that you are interested in, there are some questions you will want to ask.  Most of which is dealing with money and how much it’s going to cost you.

Some things to ask the property manager when you’re looking at the place:

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1.  How much is the deposit? This will need to paid along with the first month’s rent before moving in.  Basically it’s like paying for 2 months worth of rent at one time so it is expensive.   The deposit is there to cover the cost of any damage that you may do to the place while you’re living there.  Getting the deposit back, after you move out, will always be the most frustrating part of renting (more on that later)

2. What utilities are covered? Basic utilities that are absolutely necessary for living are water, garbage, sewer, power.  The landlord will usually take care of at least one of these.  Most likely water and sewer.  I have had the situation where the landlord paid the sewer and half of the water.  We would receive the water bill and it would be expected that half the bill would be paid with rent.  That’s the only time I’ve ever seen that, but I’ve heard of other similar types of arrangements.  Power, TV, Internet, and any other service you choose, is on you…unless otherwise specified.  That’s why you ask.

3.  Landscaping and snow shoveling. Ask if these are your responsibility.  I have heard horror stories about landlords charging tenants because of sidewalks not being shoveled or lawns not being mowed.  It’s seems like a petty thing, but they are in this game to make money off you so beware of any of those things before you sign the lease.

4. Parking. On street? Off street?  Where are the spots, and how many cars are allowed?  Seems like it wouldn’t matter, but it can.

Asja/Flickr

5. Lease length? How long do you plan to live in the place?  6 months? 1 year?  Longer?  What is the lease length that is required by the property owner?  1 year is pretty standard as the owners don’t want the expense of folks moving in an out constantly.  Moving out before the lease is up or “breaking the lease” can be costly so be sure of your situation.  Also, what happens after the lease is up?  Some places go month to month after, meaning you can move out whenever, as long as you give a months notice to the landlord. Other places may have another lease that needs to be signed.  All depends on the landlord.

Look a bunch of places.  There are a ton of different layouts and amenities at each place.  Some have washers and driers in unit, or on site.  Nice carpet.  Big rooms.  Nice kitchen. Crappy appliances. Upstairs.  Ground level. Basement with no windows.  Basement with lots of windows.  Look at several and see what fits for your situation.  If you like a place take an application. If you don’t see yourself living in the place, don’t.

Because you’ll be talking with a number of different people and looking at several different places taking note the address of the place, the contacts name and number, and the address of the units will help you keep them all organized.

The next in the series of “Moving Out of the Dorms” deals with the application process and moving in!

If you noticed I missed something, or have a comment about your own personal experience, please comment below.

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