Things to Consider Before Renting

Things to Consider Before Renting

When looking for an apartment there are many factors to consider. Below are some of the most important things to think about and keep in mind as you begin your housing search and view available units.

How Much Rent Can I Afford?

How much did I pay before? Have there been rent increases in the past few years? How much? 

How Much of My Income Should Go to Rent?

How much can I afford in rent? Your rent and utilities should only amount to about 40% of your monthly income.

Does Rent Include Utilities?

What is included in the rent? Find out who is responsible to pay for heat, gas, electric, hot water, water/sewer, recycling, and trash removal. Ask for a history of monthly utility expenses so you know what to expect.


Is the residence convenient to your place of employment, school, childcare, public transportation, shopping, and medical care?


Is the property and surrounding area well maintained and safe? Do doors, windows, and entrances to the building have secure working locks and are all usable for exit in the event of an emergency?


Is there evidence of rodents or insects? If such a problem does arise, will the landlord pay for extermination? Is there flaking, peeling paint? Beware of lead poisoning from lead paint, especially if you have children.

Fire Safety/Smoke Alarms

Are the fire escapes easy to get to? Is there a fire extinguisher readily available? Are there smoke detectors? Are the smoke detectors operational? Who is responsible for their maintenance? Pennsylvania law requires that the landlord provide a working smoke alarm in each unit.


Is the apartment quiet? Can you hear your neighbors beside, above, or below you? Ask others in the apartment complex about the positive and negative aspects of living there.


Are the stairs safe and well lit? Are the windows eroding? Is wood cracked, rotting, water damaged, or termite infested? Does the landlord provide storm windows, screens, and shades? Are the floors solid and without holes, cracks, or splinters? Make sure no tiles or floorboards are missing. Are there any cracks or holes in the walls? Make sure there is no loose or falling plaster. Are the walls and ceilings painted or wallpapered and without cracks?


Heat: Check the furnace or other source of heat. Make sure the heating source is accessible and working effectively. Check for drafts from windows and doors.

Water: There should be hot and cold running water. Check to see if water pressure is strong. Locate the turn-off valve

Sewer: Do toilets flush properly? Check for any drainage problems in sinks and tubs. Is the flooring around the tubs and toilets sound and solid?

Electricity: Are there enough electrical outlets? Is the wiring adequate to handle any appliance you may want to bring with you into the unit? Look for broken or frayed wiring or light fixtures hanging from a wire with no supports, as these are safety hazards. Locate fuse boxes and breakers.

Trash Removal: What is the policy for trash removal? Are there trash receptacles or dumpsters? Are they secure from rodents?

Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning

Do you have access to the air conditioning and heating temperature controls? Will you be able to control the heat or will the landlord control the heat? Usually if heat is included in the rent, the landlord controls the heat.


Is there a storage area inside/outside the rental unit?

Furnishings & Appliances

What is included in the apartment? Ask if refrigerator, washer and dryer, drapes, blinds, carpet, or other furniture is included in the rental unit. Who is responsible to pay for those items if they need repair?

Laundry Room

Is it safe and secure? Is it clean and well lit? Is it open 24 hours or is access restricted to certain hours? Is it restricted to resident use only?

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