Apartment hunting typically involves looking at many different places before you find the one that best suits your individual needs and preferences. Using a checklist saves significant time and aggravation when looking for the right apartment, and you can investigate possibilities online before making an in-person viewing appointment. Here is a list of 20 considerations designed to streamline your apartment search:

Availability Date

The first thing you should check is the availability date of potential apartments. In areas with very low vacancy rates such as Portland, using a service like Rent Safari significantly improves chances of finding the right place within 30 days.

Rental Prices

The amount you can afford to pay for rent will help pinpoint available units. Fortunately, rental rates are expected to flatten in 2016 rather than continue trending upwards. As a general rule, though, 30 percent of your net income should go toward rent.

Pet Policy

Some places advertise as pet-friendly but nonetheless have breed restrictions written into their lease agreement. There are 14 dog breeds that insurance companies usually refuse to insure. You may be in for an unhappy surprise if your furry friend is among the unwelcome breeds in a complex that advertises as being pet-friendly. Others may not disallow certain breeds but have weight restrictions in place instead.

Pest Policy

You can be the cleanest tenant on the planet, but if one or more of your neighbors have cleanliness issues, you could end up with rodent or bug infestations. Find out in advance who pays the exterminator in the event of this occurring.

Guest Policy

Those who plan on having overnight guests often should definitely ask about existing guest policies. Some complexes have very strict policies on overnight guests, while others are more lenient. You may end up being stuck with fines if you violate a guest policy, so be sure it’s something you can live with before you sign the lease.


Making a list of the amenities you absolutely must have before beginning your search saves time and ensures that you don’t end up living in an apartment you don’t love. Some people would be miserable without periodic long, leisurely soaks in a bathtub, for instance, and should never rent a place with just a shower. You can also check for attractive features such as patios and balconies.

Renters Insurance Policy

Some complexes require that each tenant carries renters insurance. Average policies cost from between $15-$30 per month.


If you own a vehicle, determine whether tenants have designated parking spaces will save you lots of headaches. Some complexes have visitors parking as well.

Community Amenities

Check to see which places offer community amenities that appeal to you most. Typical community amenities include clubhouses, swimming pools, exercise rooms, playgrounds, and common green spaces.

Quiet Hours

Some complexes enforce quiet hours when tenants are expected to keep noise levels to a minimum.


Always find out what, if any, utilities are included in the rental price as well as find out the average cost of the utilities. Some units look really good until you find out that high utility costs are a part of the picture.

Late Fees and Other Penalties

Although no one plans to make a late rent payment or bounce a check, it’s best to be prepared for possible unexpected situations, so check out policies on late fees, returned check charges, and other penalties.

Subletting Policy

Some apartment complexes have liberal subletting policies while others place significant restrictions on this practice.

Online Access

Find out if the complex offers online rent payments and maintenance requests.

Management Location

Always find out if there is an onsite manager and whether someone is available 24 hours per day in the event of emergencies.

Security Features

Find out whether the complex has a state-of-the-art security system, onsite security guards at night, locking grills on ground floor windows, and other security features.

Laundry Facilities

Some apartments are equipped with washers and dryers while others are situated in complexes that have community laundry rooms that may or may not cost money to use. Some apartment complexes offer no laundry facilities at all.

Furnished or Unfurnished

Determining whether an apartment is furnished or unfurnished before going to look at it will allow you to rule out those that don’t work for your specific situation.

Public Transportation

If public transportation is essential to you, narrow your apartment search to areas where it’s easily accessible. Good public transportation is listed by members of the millennial generation as one of the top three considerations when deciding where to live.


Find out what the neighborhood’s like before you schedule an appointment to view available units. After all, if it’s important to you to be within walking distance of coffee shops, fun brunch spots, good shopping, and nightlife, looking at apartments in suburban settings will be a waste of your time.

Rent Safari allows you to get pre-approved for up to 10 apartments at once from the comfort and privacy of your current location. Start searching today!

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a courtesy, and should not be considered legal advice or real estate brokerage services.