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10 things to check before renting an apartment you like

Our2Cents

Tips for making sure your new place lives up to your expectations.

When finding a new place to rent, you’re normally worried about big things like location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or whether there’s enough parking. But after you move in, it’s the little things that begin to bother you.

The team at Naked has learnt this lesson the hard way, so here are our tips for making sure your new place lives up to your expectations.

“Check UberEats and Mr D to see what restaurants are around you.” – Emily, scrum master

Emily is a lover of good food and so, when searching for her latest apartment, she hopped onto her favourite delivery apps to check out the restaurant scene in the area. She says you’ll thank yourself on a lazy Sunday afternoon or after a hectic day at work when you don’t have to jump in the car to get a decent pizza.

“Ask about the neighbours.” – Pieter, customer support

Are they big on jolling? Or is there a newborn baby downstairs? Pieter suggests that the best person to ask is the current tenant of the place you’re moving into – they’re the ones who’ve lived with your soon-to-be neighbours. Depending on how sensitive you are to sound, it’s important to know what surrounds you.

Remember to ask about the building management and how they deal with complaints. If they are lax about people not following the rules, it might not be the best fit for you. Also, ask about the smoking policy - it’s good to check whether you’ll be living above or next to a heavy smoker.

“Know the measurements of your furniture and take a tape measure with you to the viewing.” – Mpilo, developer

It might be a bit of a nightmare on a moving day when you find out that your king-size bed doesn’t fit into your new bedroom – or through the front door. Mpilo suggests measuring your furniture and taking those measurements as well as a tape measure along to your viewing – just to be sure that everything fits.

“Ask what you can expect to pay for water and electricity each month” – Kaybee, developer

To give you a more accurate gauge of what you can expect to pay, Kaybee suggests asking the current tenants. Don’t forget to add it to your budget along with the rent and any other levies, so you can assess the true cost of living there.

“Take note of any existing damage in the apartment and ask for it to be repaired before you move in.” – Lebo, developer

There’s nothing worse than moving into a place and finding out that there’s no water pressure in the shower or that the windows don’t close properly. When viewing, Lebo suggests inspecting the little things:

  • Does the light in the oven work?
  • Do all the plates on the stove work?
  • Are all taps in working order?
  • Do all doors and windows open and close easily, as well as lock?
  • Do all the lights switch on and off?
  • Are there any major cracks or blemishes on the walls?
  • Are carpets in a decent state?
  • Does the toilet flush?
  • Does the shower have a good showerhead and decent water pressure?
  • If the bedroom has a ceiling fan, turn it on to all speeds to make sure it doesn’t rattle or wobble at higher speeds.
  • Open all the cupboards and check for holes or unstable shelves.
  • Plug your phone charger into every socket to see if they work.

“See that the windows are north-facing.” – Marguerite, designer

Marguerite likes to rise with the sun, but not have it directly in her eyes when she wakes up. She recently found a new home and having the windows face north was important to her. A north-facing home means more hours of sunlight every day, which means the space is light all year round, and warm in winter, but not too hot in summer.

“Enquire about parking rules.” – Magdaleen, UX designer

Most complexes have limited visitors’ parking. So, Magdaleen, our UX designer, suggests always asking what the rules are. In some instances, visitors’ parking is only for visitors. So if you and your partner move into a flat that only has one allocated parking bay, you may need to ask for permission to park one car in a visitor’s bay.

“Have a look at the fittings and see if they suit you.” – Courtney, content writer

Your current place may have a gas stove, which means you don’t have an electric kettle. Or the curtain rails may be for eyelet curtains and you currently have taped ones. Obviously, fixtures like stoves can’t be changed, so buying a new kettle is something you’ll have to add to your budget. As for things like curtains, Courtney suggests chatting to your prospective landlord to see if they are willing to put up different curtain rails for you.

“Have a look at the cell reception in each room.” – Malcolm, developer

Unfortunately, load-shedding is not a thing of the past yet. So having a good cell signal to use as a WiFi backup for when the power goes out is a necessity if you’re working from home. Naked developer Malcolm advises you to go from room to room and see what signal your phone gets.

“Don’t forget the more obvious things like ...” – Liezel, marketing

Safety and security

Ask about crime in the area. Is it safe to come home late at night? Check the security of the complex and specific apartment. Are there burglar bars and security gates for your doors? How good is the access control? What are the guards’ duties?

Parking availability

How many spots are there per apartment and where are they? Are they undercover or could your car be at risk of hail damage?

General noise levels in the area

Have a listen to the noise levels in the area. Is there a main road or highway near the apartment that could keep you up at night? If you really like the area, visit more than once, at different times of day – including at night – to assess noise levels.

Make sure the walls aren’t too thin. Try viewing the apartment during busy times of the day when people are generally moving around to check if there is adequate soundproofing.

Are pets allowed?

Many places don’t allow cats or only allow small dogs. This is applicable even if you don't own a pet – so that you know what pet noises might be coming from the neighbours, or whether you’ll have cats leaving scratch marks on the bonnet of your car.

Home sweet home

Whether you’re moving into your own place for the first time, or this is just an upgrade, it always takes some time to adjust to a new space. Once you’ve found the perfect new home, check out these tips from team Naked that will make living on your own a little easier.

And because you never know what might happen, remember to buy home insurance for your new place so that you’re covered in case something unfortunate happens, like the upstairs neighbours’ geyser bursting and leaking into your cupboard. If you’re still unsure whether you need renter’s insurance, check out this article.

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