Typically, when students are looking for rental accommodations, they are most concerned with location, amenities and price. All of these are important to consider, but there are also other things students should check when viewing rental accommodations.
Students generally tend to be inexperienced and naïve renters, due mostly to their lack of rental history and knowledge. A rental accommodation might look great, be close to school and have all the amenities the renter is looking for, but there are other items to consider before signing the lease. Here are a few crucial things to check that don’t necessarily come to mind when hunting for rental accommodations.
1. Cellphone Reception:
It should come as no surprise that students are always on their phone - so cellphone reception is incredibly important! Students should walk around the entire rental unit and make sure there is a strong cellphone signal throughout. This is especially important in basement apartments, where reception may be poor.
Many might think, “Who cares about the windows?” Renters will - once they see a heating bill in the winter! If a tenant is responsible to pay the heating bill and the rental has poorly sealed or drafty windows, it can become quite expensive. Take a good look at the windows; if condensation is visible or if a draft can be felt, this is a bad sign. Also check to see if all the windows can open; some windows may be painted shut, hard to open or just don’t open at all.
Security is of utmost importance to students (especially for parent’s peace of mind!). It’s important to make sure that the locks are functioning properly and cannot be easily tampered with. Also, although this can be difficult to check, make sure the door is sized properly. Otherwise, in winter months, the door might expand and it will become increasingly difficult to lock in colder months.
4. Water Pressure:
Turn on all of the faucets, flush the toilets and test out the shower heads. If possible, try running all of these at the same time to see what happens. Water pressure might not seem like a big deal, but washing dishes or having a shower with low water pressure will become a nuisance.
5. Electrical Outlets:
Just because there is an electric outlet in the wall, doesn’t mean it necessarily works. It’s highly recommended to test the outlets; especially the ones that will be frequently used (ex. bedroom). Outlet location is also important. If the outlets aren’t in easy to access places, extension cords will likely be required.
Renters are likely going to be using household appliances on a daily basis, so it’s important to ensure they are all in working order. Test out the fridge, stovetop, oven, microwave, etc. If something isn’t working properly, ask the landlord or property manager if they are willing to fix or replace it, before moving in (get this agreement in writing!).
7. Parking Availability:
There might be a large parking lot with plenty of parking spots, but quite often, there will be an additional fee for parking. This is especially true with larger apartment communities. Make sure to ask whether or not a parking space is included with the rental rate. Also ask about the guest parking policies.
8. Storage Space:
Some rental units have limited storage space available. Be sure to ask if there is an area to store a bike, outside chairs, a barbeque, etc., if applicable.
9. Neighbor Noises:
Nobody wants to live somewhere where the walls are paper-thin and everything happening in the next room or apartment is audible. Test out the noise level to the best of your ability, as this will be extremely important at exam time, etc.
10. The Neighborhood:
It’s wise to go beyond just looking at the rental accommodation and the neighborhood in which it’s located. If possible, visit the area both during the day and at night, to get a complete picture of what the neighborhood is like.
SEE ALSO: First Time Renters: 10 Things Nobody Tells You