What to talk to my property manager about
When you sign a lease, the property manager will be the person you deal with for any questions about your apartment. Though the property manager is there to help you, it's still a good idea to ask them some questions before moving in. Here are some things that I've found helpful to talk about with my property manager
How can I pay rent?
If you're paying in person, the manager will most likely be at the office during business hours. This can be inconvenient if you don't live nearby or have other commitments that make it difficult for you to get there. If this is the case, consider paying by mail instead.
Are there any problems with the apartment?
You should also ask about any problems with the apartment. Are there any pests, such as mice or cockroaches? Is there noise from upstairs neighbors or nearby construction sites? How about parking--do you have a designated spot for your car, or will you have to share with other residents?
If there are any problems with the apartment it's always helpful for both parties if there are clear expectations about what type of repairs are expected from each party and what kind of problems will be fixed by whom.
What's your pet policy?
Ask your property manager how many pets are allowed, and what kinds of pets they allow. If you're looking for a place that allows dogs but not cats, or if you have a pet that requires special care (like a bird), this is the time to find out.
You also want to know about any fees associated with having a pet--is there an annual fee? Is there an additional charge for each animal? How much notice do I need to give if I want to add another pet?
When will you be able to get your deposit back?
It's important to know how long it will take for your deposit to be returned. It should be returned within 30 days of the tenant vacating, but if there is damage to the apartment and it needs repairs, that could take longer. If you're evicted and have not already gotten back your security deposit, your landlord may keep some or all of it.
The best way to avoid any confusion over when or how much money will be returned is by signing an agreement with your property manager before moving in that specifies what happens if either party wants out early (or stays longer than originally agreed upon).
Questions to ask property managers
How do I pay rent?
How much is the rent? Does the rent include any utilities?
Is the heat electric or gas?
What date would the unit be available?
What kind of appliances are in the unit?
What are the specifics of the pet policy?
What kind of building is this unit in? Who else is living in the building?
What is the neighborhood like here?
Are there smokers in the building? Is smoking allowed?
Is there parking available? Is that an extra cost?
What schools are around here and how close are they?
What is the bus system like around the area?
What kind of tenants lived in the unit before? Do you know why they decided to move out?
Remember, it's important to ask questions and get answers that are clear. If you don't understand what the property manager is saying, try asking them again in a different way. You should also ask about things like specific policies and other issues before moving in, so there aren't any surprises later on down the line when you need help with something urgent.