Finding an apartment you like is half the battle. Before a landlord accepts you as a tenant, they are going to have lots of questions for you. The most important of their questions are essentially asked in the application form they will ask you to fill out.
Wouldn't it be nice to have an application form you can present to the landlord to fill out? After all, you're going to be dependent and their word and honesty to fulfill many basic functions that will affect the quality of your like. Well, there is no such "landlord application form", and they wouldn't sit for you and fill it out anyhow. But you should still try to find out the information that is most important to you.
In other words, you should have a list of questions prepared that you can ask the landlord.
Now, you're not just going to fire one question off to the landlord after another. But over the course of one or two conversations with your prospective landlord, you should try to find out about some of the following:
- If the apartment isn't rent stabilized, will I be able to renew the lease?
- If the apartment isn't rent stabilized, will the landlord agree to make future rent increases the same percentage as rent stabilization increases?
- On what date is the rent due?
- Can it be paid by personal check or electronic funds transfer?
- What are the late payment penalties?What are the terms for return my rental deposit?
- Are there any expectations beyond leaving the apartment "broom clean" at the end of the lease term?
- Is there a pet damage deposit? How will I get that back at the end of my term?
- Are any utilities included in the rent? Is heat and hot water included?
- Is there storage available in the building? Is there an extra charge for it?
- Is parking available in the building? Is there an extra charge for it?
- Are cable or satellite TV and broadband access available in the building?
- What modifications are you allowed to make in the apartment? Can you paint walls and ceilings, install shelves, hang mirrors and pictures, add/change window coverings, etc.