Rental tips help students avoid costly housing mistakes

As the semester winds to a close and apartment-hunting season arrives on schedule, property managers and inspectors advise students to be extremely cautious before signing their name to any lease.

Students are encouraged by these experts to look for apartments that fit their budget, as well as inspect and understand how the apartment is managed.

When searching for apartments, students usually choose the first apartment that catches their eye, said many inspectors.

Many options are available to students looking for a place, so keep in mind several factors when searching for that temporary home.

The first step is for students to find a price range that suits them.

Philip Ochoa, a rental consultant from Apartment Seekers, said his office caters to students trying to narrow their search to apartments that fit their price range.

“At Apartment Seekers, we narrow your search of apartments to your needs and give packets of information with all apartments listed in your area,” Ochoa said.

The next important issue experts said students should consider when visiting apartments is inspecting quality. Home inspectors say examining the apartment is the first thing to do when visiting the unit before moving in.

“Check everything,” said home inspector Joel Perez of Allied Home Inspections. “Turn on all the appliances in the kitchen. See if water pressure is good and check for leaks as well.”

Home inspector John Gay, of Alpha Home Inspections Inc., said potential renters should check for water damage and defective apartment buildings.

“If you see large dark spots on the ceilings, that could be signs of water damage,” Gay said. “Large uneven cracks on buildings are signs of unsettling foundation.”

Gay said if students are shown a vacant apartment there is no reason it should be messy or in any state of disorder, especially when students move into the new apartment.

“It is against the law if a resident moves into a dirty apartment,” Gay said.

In addition to checking the apartment, real estate manager Richard Duvall of Acorn Management Inc. recommended that students ask several questions about the apartment.

Find out who owns the building. How is the security? Who should be contacted for fixing appliances in the apartment? Are pets allowed? If the person showing the apartments seems

Duvall also recommended checking out the neighborhood before renting.

“Drive by the apartment to see if that is where you want to be,” he said.

In addition, Duvall gave some tips to finding out more about apartment-hunting. He suggested that for students trying to get to know the neighborhood, one thing they should be sure to do is meet the neighbors.

“Do door knocking, and find out from other neighbors if they are happy with management,” he said.

Please Click here for a checklist to help you on your housing search.