I’m about to turn in my keys at my old apartment building. I realize this advice is a little late, as most people have already found places to live, but in light of the fiasco I went through this year, I have some tips that still may help someone, even in July.
– READ YOUR LEASE. If you can’t understand your lease, try to find someone who has some legal background and can interpret it for you. Or ask your landlord. It’s a good idea to know what your lease says because there might be policies or a procedure for notifying the landlord that you’re moving out.
– Try to live somewhere that has separate leases for roommates. That way, in the event that one roommate unexpectedly quits his/her job and moves away to be unemployed (but omg in loooove), you aren’t responsible for paying his/her rent. Plus, the landlord can send the collection agents after him/her without messing up your credit.
– Be familiar with your state’s landlord/tenant laws. See if the code includes a right to quiet enjoyment of your property. If you have horrible, loud neighbors and your state recognizes quiet enjoyment, there’s a good chance they’re violating this right and you should be sure to mention that to your apartment office. Knowing the law can be intimidating to a landlord who doesn’t want to enforce privacy and security policies; citing to the code is even better. 😉
– Keep written/photographic/video evidence of your interactions with your landlord and roommates. I took photos of my apartment after I cleaned and before I locked up for the last time, just in case they try to accuse me of not cleaning. Save apartment-related e-mails to/from your roommates or landlord in case you have to bring them up later.
– Don’t be afraid to call the cops if someone is bothering you. If your complex has a courtesy officer, you can call them, but it might be beneficial to just call the city/county police first. Especially if you have noisy neighbors that the courtesy officer refuses to do anything about.
– For goodness’s sake, lock your doors and don’t answer it for people you don’t know. People were robbed in my neighborhood when they answered their door, and a few people wandered into my apartment looking for someone else. Don’t be stupid when it comes to protecting yourself.
– Make sure you can get along with your roommate(s). Spending time with them isn’t really an indication of how they’ll be as a roommate, but it helps. Lay ground rules and speak out if you have a problem. Establish early on whether you’re going to pay for rent together or utilities, etc. and what jobs you’re going to do to keep the apartment clean. And ESPECIALLY establish whether it’s okay to throw parties in the apartment. Your roommate’s friends might not be as considerate of your TV or furniture as your roommate is.
Anything else? Overall, I can’t wait to get my stuff turned in. I would never recommend my apartment complex to anyone in grad school, especially after the crap I went through during 2nd semester, so I’m ecstatic about getting my deposit returned and never dealing with those people again. Just a few hours until I get everything turned in, and I’m DONE!!!