Moving into a new city or even a new apartment in the same city can be nerve-wracking and tedious. But in order to find the best deal possible for your money, never take the first apartment you see until after you’ve canvassed a couple of options and talked to a couple of different landowners.

You can’t negotiate effectively if you don’t have a clear picture of the general housing market in New Jersey, and what the usual lease policies are in the area. Keep in mind that to ensure success when moving to a major city, first and foremost, you have to find the ideal apartment that will allow you to adjust to your new life comfortably.

So aside from the usual questions involving payment of rent (how much it is, when the schedule of payment is, the mode of payment the landlord prefers), here are other important questions you should never forget to ask a potential landlord: 

  • Is the security deposit refundable?

No matter where you choose to rent, you will definitely be asked to pay a security deposit before you move in. You might think this amount is fully refundable all the time, as long as you don’t damage anything in the apartment, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

You’d be surprised at how many landowners write in a provision in the lease contract stipulating that the security deposit is in no case refundable. You have to be certain as to whether or not you’ll get this deposit back.

  • How much notice do you need before I move out?

Some landlords only require a few days notice, while others require you to notify them at least a month prior before moving out. It’s important to know this ahead of time because you never know when you’ll need to move out for work or to get your own house once the opportunity arises.

  • Am I required to have renter’s insurance?

Renters insurance or tenant insurance is sometimes required by landowners to protect your rights and theirs in case of fortuitous events like a break-in incident. In New Jersey, not many landowners require you to have this policy. But it would be a wildly unexpected expense on your part if you end up signing the lease without realizing that you need insurance.

  • What’s your policy on pets and houseplants?

If you ever want to adopt pets or take care of houseplants in your apartment, you need your super’s go-ahead first. There are some landlords who are not keen on exposing their property to animals and even plants, and most of the time there are hefty fees connected to violating policies on pets and plants.

  • Is there a way for me to get renewable energy?

One of the major downsides to living in an apartment is not having the freedom to install solar panels on the roof or windows, because you won’t be allowed to make any structural changes to the property. This doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on using renewable energy when you move to your apartment in Jersey. Ask potential landowners if there’s a way the unit can be tapped to renewables like community solar in New Jersey.

The thing about shared solar farms is that it is available by subscription, so you’d get to enjoy cheaper, cleaner energy without the hassle of installing solar panels.

  • Who do I call for emergency maintenance?

As a lessee, you’re not supposed to be liable for any issues in the apartment, except those that are directly your fault. This means you have to be able to call your super for emergencies like pipes giving out and the like. They are supposed to give you a contact number for utility professionals you can call any time of the day, any day of the week, for emergencies.

  • How much is the penalty for ending the lease early?

Lease contracts usually have lock-in periods of at least a year. You’d be lucky to find a lease that will only bind you unconditionally for 6 months or less. In any case, you have to know your rights in terms of ending the lease early and in your own terms. Naturally, you’d be asked to pay a fee for violating the terms of your contract — the only question is how much.

Wrapping Up

There you have it — seven questions you absolutely must ask landowners before pulling your pen out to sign that lease contract. With that, the only thing left to say is good luck on the apartment search, and welcome to New Jersey.