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4 Tips to Avoid Renter’s Remorse

March 25th, 2014 : Lydia Epp Schmidt

You’ve just unpacked the last few boxes, hung your favorite art on the walls and finally kicked your heels up in your new apartment when a sinking feeling sets in. This place somehow doesn’t measure up… it’s not the apartment you actually want to live in.

How to avoid this sinking feeling? Here are four considerations to think long and hard about before leasing a new apartment – but not too long, we all know how fast a good deal goes in the NYC rental market.

1.    Location is underrated.

The proximity from your residence to other locations is a big deal. How close do you want to be to:

  • Work/school

  • Grocery stores and eateries

  • Transportation hubs (airports, subways, bus stations)

  • Nightlife

(And any other daily activities).

The location of your apartment in the building matters too. If you don’t want to run the risk of having neighbors who stomp on the floor above you, try to get a unit on the top floor. On the other hand, if there’s no air conditioning you might want to be on the ground level during the sweltering summer weather where it’s cooler. And while walk-up apartment buildings have the pro of built-in squats (that don’t make you feel silly) into everyday life, it also means moving into an apartment without an elevator.

2.    Start out small if you’re unsure about space needs.

A single apartment building may have several different vacancies with varying floor plans that give tenants the option to choose the size and price that best suits their needs.

In cases where you’re sold on the building, but unsure about which apartment type you want to call home, it’s a good idea to start small. Not only will the monthly rent cost less than a larger unit, but your heating and cooling bills will likely also be less.

If the day comes when you’re ready for an upgrade and a larger apartment is available, you might be able to make the move before your current lease expires.

3.    Do a little investigating about the property and the tenants.

When you tour the apartment you’re considering moving into, don’t be shy about testing it out. Open and close the doors and windows. Ensure the faucets run smoothly and the sinks drain. Flush the toilets and test the light switches.

Introduce yourself to the other tenants and ask them how they like living there. Visit the building at night to see if it appears to be as safe and calm as it did in the daylight.

Be polite, but ask the landlord about the condition of the building and the appliances. Search for the building and landlord’s name online to see if there have been any prior complaints.

4.    Pay attention to the little details.

Make sure you know the nitty-gritty details before making a decision.

Find out if pets are allowed – you wouldn’t want to have to leave your unicorn outside in the cold. Ask if you’re allowed to make modifications to your space like painting the walls or installing shelves.

Is there a penalty for terminating your lease early and are there any exceptions? Is subletting allowed? What is the service level agreement for the landlord to respond to emergencies like a broken water pipe?

Add up your findings and make a decision.

Putting in this legwork upfront can help you make an informed decision about where you’d like to rent. In the end, don’t be scared to go with your gut – by doing your due diligence first, you’ll reduce your risk of having renter’s remorse.

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