Tips for the Prospective Renter
a few words of advice for apartment hunters
• Ask around. If a friend lives in a place they like or deals with a landlord they like, there may be units available even if they aren’t advertised.
• What is the neighborhood like? Look at nearby amenities and bike/walkability.
• Call the local health department and check if there are any uncorrected complaints against the property (Eau Claire County: 715-839-4718; Chippewa County: 715-726-7900, Dunn County: 715-232-2388)
• Get the name of a possible landlord and run it through Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (wcca.wicourts.gov) to see if they have a clean record.
• Never sign a lease without seeing the apartment – especially in complexes where “all the apartments are the same” and they keep a clean one on hand to show people like you.
• Read and understand all lease paperwork. Make sure all your questions and concerns are answered before you sign. It is a contract, and means you have legal responsibilities as well as the landlord.
• A one-page lease could be a red flag. The more paperwork, the better. Tenant and landlord responsibilities should be clearly defined.
• Good landlords enjoy answering questions. They want tenants who care about their living space.
• If you’re deciding between two places, consider the Paper Layout Experiment. Take the rough measurements of the crucial spaces, and note where there are vents, doorways, windows, etc. Then measure your furniture, bookshelves, and the like. Divide the measurements down so the room can fit on paper. Then do cutouts of the furniture and organize them in the paper room. Whichever layout excites you more is the winner.
IS THIS PLACE GOOD?
Consult this handy checklist before you sign the lease
☑ Turn on all light switches to see if they do, indeed, produce light.
☑ Check each power outlet (use a small appliance like a hairdryer).
☑ Turn on the sink and bathtub faucets (check for leaks or plugged drains).
☑ Flush toilet, check for leaks.
☑ Look for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
☑ Check ceiling and walls for cracks and water stains.
☑ Check the locking mechanisms on doors and on all the windows.
☑ How well sealed are the windows? (Will you pay a ton for heat/air?)
☑ Inspect furnace and/or air conditioner. Are they well-maintained?
☑ Check hot water: Is it the proper temperature?
☑ Check for exit lights.
☑ Is the exterior of the building well-lit and well-maintained?