Chicago Apartment Rent Interview Tips
Five Interview Tips
- Get a headstart. Save time-and stand out in a crowd of applicants-by
bringing a copy of your credit report and a completed rental application
to your interviews.
- Don't miss the bus. It's better to arrive early than to be late for an
interview appointment. As with job interviews, first impressions are often
- Let there be light. Visit prospective apartments in the daytime so
you'll know how much natural light to expect and any problems will be
easier to see. Drive through the neighborhood at night to see outdoor
lighting and street culture.
- Measure up. Record the sizes of your big-ticket furniture, and bring a
tape measure with you to measure apartment doors. If you find a great
apartment but it's too small for all of your stuff, decide in advance what
you'd be willing to sell, store or get rid of so you aren't held back by
- Sell yourself. Apartment searches aren't really the best time for
club-kid duds, dark-angel Goth or bedhead casual. You'll be meeting
prospective landlords, so however you dress, you want to give the
impression that you'll be on time with your rent and you'll be a good
caretaker of the apartment.
15 questions to potential landlords
Be sure that the answers to questions 1-12 are covered in or added to your
rental agreement. And don't leave without a copy of any amendments-it's
worth a detour to the local copy center.
Written by Sally Anderson
- When is the unit available?
If the move-in date is impractical for you,
ask if it's negotiable so that you don't pay for unoccupied time. Is the
apartment currently occupied? Will the landlord arrange for you to talk with
the current occupant or other tenants?
- Is the lease agreement month-to-month or year-to-year?
Most leases are
the latter, but in college or military neighborhoods, or upon request, you
may be able to negotiate for a month-to-month lease.
- How much are rent and deposit fees, and when is rent due?
deposit includes "first, last and security": You pay the first and last
month's rent up front, as well as a security (damage) deposit that's
partially or fully refundable after you move out. If there's a nonrefundable
screening fee, is it negotiable if you bring your own credit report?
- Is there a grace period after the monthly rental due date?
When is a payment
considered late, and is there a penalty charge for late payment?
- What are the terms for renewing the lease?
Can you move into an
apartment you like better if one becomes vacant?
What are the conditions if you
have to move before the lease expires?
- Are pets allowed?
If a landlord is skeptical about pets, offer to pay a
nonrefundable pet deposit or discuss other compromises to help him or her feel
comfortable. If a pet-deposit policy is in place, is it refundable if there's no
pet damage when you move out?
- Are any utilities included in your agreement?
What are typical bill
amounts in different seasons?
Do you need to make your own arrangements for
It's preferable to have your own utility accounts rather than making
payments to your landlord-you'll avoid "trust issues," and on-time payments will
help your credit rating.
- Are you allowed to have roommates?
What is the policy on subletting?
- Can you paint the walls or make other decorating changes?
- Are you allowed to run a home business from your apartment?
- Will you be responsible for any property maintenance?
Is there an
office onsite or a 24-hour phone number in case of emergency?
- How is garbage removal handled? Is recycling available?
- Who are the other building residents, especially those who share your
walls or live above and below you?
- How does the landlord handle noise violations?
Does the building tend
to be quiet, or is it Party Central?
How about the neighborhood traffic, noise
level and crime rate?
- How close are the nearest public transportation, post office, grocery
stores, banks and restaurants?
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