If you’re currently looking for a new apartment in downtown Phoenix, then you probably know how overwhelming it can be to explore all of your options. Finding a place that checks all of your boxes can be challenging, especially when you’re touring multiple apartment complexes.
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At Moontower, we’ve helped many people just like you find their home in Phoenix, and we understand the importance of making an educated decision. To help you feel more prepared, we’ve created this list of 11 important questions you should ask before signing an apartment lease.
11 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease at a Downtown Phoenix Apartment
1. What are the specific lease terms?
Leases are lengthy documents, and their specific terms can be complicated. It’s important to clarify your lease start and end dates. There are a few other common lease terms that might not initially come to mind, including:
- Restrictions on putting holes in the walls (such as hanging pictures or installing shelves) or otherwise changing the appearance of your apartment, like painting a wall, putting up wallpaper, etc.
- Subleasing policy
- Pet policy
- Late fee policy
- Parking accommodations
- Additional expenses
2. What is included in my monthly rental rate?
In addition to occupying the apartment, your monthly rental rate may or may not account for other expenses. It’s important to make clear distinctions between what is and what is not included in your monthly rental rate at each complex you’re interested in. A few significant costs to ask about that vary from apartment to apartment include:
- Wi-Fi/Technology Fees
- Amenity Fees
3. How much do utilities cost?
In addition to asking what utilities you’re responsible for on top of your monthly rental rate, it’s important to ask what the typical utility costs are. Most apartments should have their average utility costs available to factor into your total budget, but if the complex is unsure, you can contact your local provider for an estimate.
4. What is your pet policy?
If you have any pets or are considering getting one during your lease term, you should ask about the building’s pet policies.
You should see whether or not pets are allowed and if there are any restrictions on breeds or types of pets you can have. Then, you can get into the details of pet deposits, pet fees, pet rent, cleaning costs, etc. Pet policies vary widely from community to community, but most apartments in Phoenix charge a refundable pet deposit, a non-refundable pet fee, and monthly pet rent.
5. Do you require renter’s insurance?
The state of Arizona doesn’t have any laws mandating renter’s insurance, but many apartments will require that you have it prior to move-in. Even if it’s not required, renter’s insurance is a good idea to have since it provides coverage for your apartment in the event of a fire, flood, theft or similar incident.
Some landlords also offer their own policies that you can opt in to, but this insurance typically won’t cover your personal property. In this case, it often makes sense to outsource your own renter’s insurance for increased protection.
Read Next: A Guide to Renter’s Insurance in Phoenix, AZ
6. How do I pay rent?
When it comes to paying rent, most management companies offer a few options. There is typically an online portal where you can pay with a card or bank transfer. Online portals also usually have an auto-pay option, which can give you peace of mind and help you avoid late fees.
Some apartments accept checks as well. Either way, be sure to know where your payment should go, who it should be addressed to, and when it needs to arrive.
7. How are repairs handled?
Although everything should be in good quality while touring apartments and upon move-in, it’s always a good idea to ask about maintenance.
You’ll want to ask about how emergency repairs are handled, if there is maintenance staff on-call 24/7 or only at specific hours, and what the average response time is. Whether you have a malfunctioning appliance or just need a new lightbulb, it’s important to ensure that you’ll have a prompt resolution to any maintenance issues.
8. How secure is the property?
When touring an apartment, you should be sure to discuss the security features at your potential new home. You should ask what internal and external security measures the property has, such as:
- 24/7 surveillance cameras
- Overnight security officers
- Restricted entry with your phone, a key fob, or other sort of badge
- Buzzer system
- Deadbolt locks on the apartment’s front door
If the complex has a parking garage, you should also ask about security measures involving garage access and how to enter the building from the garage.
9. How often does rent typically increase, and by how much?
In downtown Phoenix, it’s common for apartments to increase rent each year upon renewal of the lease to match market rates and accommodate tax increases. These increases aren’t always stated in the lease, so be sure to ask what you can expect your new rate to be if you end up deciding to renew.
10. Is parking available, and how much does it cost?
If you own a car, finding a parking spot is likely high on your list of priorities. For apartments with parking garages, you can typically rent a parking space for the duration of your lease.
You should ask about parking availability and location, the monthly cost, and if there is any onsite visitor parking. In downtown Phoenix, you can expect the cost of a parking spot at an apartment complex to be anywhere from $100 to upwards of $250 per month.
11. What expenses are due upon application, lease signing, and move-in?
On top of your monthly rental rate, most apartments in Phoenix charge an application fee, administrative fee, and a security deposit upon move-in or lease signing.
- Application Fee: Application fees are typically a non-refundable fee ranging from $50 to $100 that covers the cost of background checks and other screening required to approve your application.
- Admin Fee: Admin fees are generally a non-refundable, one-time service fee ranging from $150 to $250 that covers administration, billing, bill auditing, overhead, and similar expenses that the complex will incur throughout your lease.
- Security Deposit: A security deposit is typically refundable at the end of your lease as long as there is no damage to your apartment beyond ordinary wear and tear. At some complexes, however, the deposit is credited toward your rent payments. In Phoenix, security deposits typically range anywhere from $200 to the equivalent of one and a half times your monthly rate.
Different apartments require that these fees be paid at different times during the application, signing, and move-in processes. When touring apartments, be sure to clarify the amount of each expense and when it is due.
We hope that this list of questions helps you feel better prepared on your next apartment tour and helps you get all the necessary information about an apartment before signing a lease. If you have any more questions about living at Moontower or signing a lease in downtown Phoenix in general, please contact our leasing team, who is always happy to help!