I’ve lived in a variety of rentals since highschool. I’ve been maintaining and living in different condo properties. I’ve observed the differences, the advantages, the nuisances, the happy perks.
These are the lessons I’ve acquired throughout the years. A collection of concerns you need to address before choosing your winning condo unit. Or suffer with subtle annoyances all year round.
WHAT TO ASK WHEN RENTING A CONDO
Print the checklist that you may download below.
How much is the monthly rent? Is there a projected increase every year?
Take note how many days notice is required if you don’t plan on renewing the contract after a year. A good tip as in everything, scrap the cheapest option. You’ll get what you paid for. You don’t want headache everyday.
Is the monthly rent inclusive of association dues/ management fees?
Ask because this varies from unit to unit. Some lessors would include it in the monthly rent while some will waive it for you. There are also others who would like to treat you like the resident that you are and make you pay the association dues yourself at the Property Management Office.
Is the monthly rent inclusive of utility fees? If not, how much is the estimated bill?
This is so you’ll know if it will fit your budget. There might be a mandatory cable or internet bills that you don’t need and don’t have a budget for.
How many months deposit and advance payments are required?
Spare yourself from the shock of having to pool a big chunk of money at a short notice. The required deposit and advance payment may make the difference to closing the deal to your dream condo unit. It is usually 2 months advance and 1 month refundable deposit or the other way around.
How much is the security deposit
A refundable security deposit is for the safety of the lessor. It is the fund for broken or missing items in the unit, unpaid bills in case you suddenly flee to escape payment. If you are a good lessee, this will be refunded to you in full once you vacate the unit.
Do they require post-dated checks or is cash payment every month okay?
Most condo rental would require PDCs to skip the undesirable task of collecting every month. This is also a gauge for them to see if the lessee has the capacity to fulfill rent without giving them a headache.
Every when is the rent due?
Note the specific day of the month when you need to pay. This is to remind you to fund the check or to withdraw ahead. Penalties can be a drain in the bank.
Is there penalty for late payment? How much?
There will really be instances when you’re drowned with work or just don’t have the cash yet. It is important to know the penalty so you’re not shocked at the end.
- Are there any other additional fees?
Prevent any future headache and shock by asking this upfront. You might be collected a garbage collection fee or a homeowners association fee. Who knows what else they can come up with.
- Is it furnished?
- Do windows open?
- Are the door knobs/locks in tact?
- Are the basic furnishings provided?
Is there an airconditioner, a refrigerator, a bed with mattress, enough closet, and a shower heater? These are bulky items that you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle to bring if you’re renting a furnished condo. Make sure these are available.
- What furnishings are included?
This is more or less so you know which ones to fill in, find, borrow, or request. This may also help you weigh in if you are left with two condo units to choose from.
- Size and type of bed
Know ahead if you’ll be provided with a real bed or a sofa bed. Check the mattress for comfort. Is it new or worn out?
- Is there space to bring your own preferred furnishings?
If there’s none, could it be arranged that they pull out their own to give way for your couch and study table?
- Is there a slot for an airconditioner?
If you’re a polar bear, you might need to consider this little sneaky detail.
- What’s the floor area?
Take note of this to help you estimate and plot out the lay-out for your things.
- Can you hang things on the wall? Bore a hole? Paint a wall?
If you have dreams of interior styling your new place, it might get frustrating if you’re not prepared with all the restrictions in the unit.
- How wide is the door?
Bring a measuring tape to check if your bed frame and dining set will fit in to the door.
- What amenities are available? Are these free to use as a lessee?
Check which amenities are necessary for you. If you work-out everyday, you might want to inspect the quality and operating hours of the gym. If you love to swim, check pool availability. If these are unit owners use only, check how much is the monthly fee.
- Is there a laundry/drying area?
If none, ask how’s the washing situation and options available.
- How’s the elevator service?
Schedule an ocular during the rush hour to see how slow you’ll get served by the elevator. High-rise buildings with too many units in each floor tend to have longer elevator waiting time. This may cause you to become late for work every morning, or you’ll have to leave earlier than supposedly necessary.
- Do you have parking slot?
If you’re bringing in a car, ask if your unit includes a parking lot. If not, check how much is the monthly parking lease. If there’s no parking for lease, check what parking options you have? The side street, the nearby mall?
- Is there a lobby concierge/receptionist?
If there is, try to interact with them while you’re there to get a feel of their hospitality. Are they nice or snobbish? Lenient or strict? Generally, are they bordering annoying or very good at their job? You’ll see these people every day of your life and they can make or break your day. Check if you can leave parcels for pick-up with them or if they can receive packages and letters on your behalf. These are small, common details that largely affects the quality of your experience in a condo building. Some are just irrationally strict while some are reasonably flexible enough to accommodate special requests– requests that sometimes can save you a lot of stress.
- How’s the signal reception? Which mobile network has the stronger connection?
Prevent the pain of having to keep your phone in one corner or running all the way out to answer a call.
- What cable provider is available in the building?
You might want NBA Premium or Star World but the cable provider available doesn’t have your channels.
- What internet and telephone landline provider are available in the building?
These are services you use everyday. If you have crappy options available, it may dictate the level of enjoyment you’ll have in your new place.
- Who maintains the unit?
If pipes are leaking, bidet gets broken, bulbs get busted, door knobs get loose, who fixes and replaces what? It is important to be clear on this so you know if your paid-for repairs are for refund or not.
- Are pets allowed?
Not all condominiums allow pets in the building. Some only allow small, non-intrusive pets like fish. Some doesn’t allow dogs and cats at all.
- Do fire alarms and sprinklers, faucet and water heater, lighting fixtures work?
Try all faucet knobs, if there are loose ones, ask for it to be fixed. Try bulb slots, faulty wiring can create problems. Test the shower water pressure.
- Does the unit have an emergency power outlet and light switch?
Newer buildings have included this feature in case of power outage. Ask where these are located if available.
- Is smoking allowed in the unit?
Ask this if you are a smoker. If it’s not allowed, ask where you can puff. If you are allergic to smoke, you might want to ask if your neighbors are smokers. Smoking in the unit still permeates through the hallway. Even smoking in the balcony can get to your side of the balcony. These are simple annoying things to consider.
- How is garbage disposed?
You might not be a fan of buildings where trashes are left outside the door for collection. You may pay special interest where they store the trash of the whole building. If they don’t have a good system in place, the smell of the waste may bother you everyday.
- Is there anyone you can contact 24/7 if there’s an emergency?
Property Management Offices are usually close by 6pm.Who do you call in case pipes burst, power shuts down, or water in the faucet stops flowing?
- How’s the public transport situation?
If you have your own car, this might not be much of an issue. But if you’re not driving, try to experience how long it will take for you to get a cab during rush hour. Check how many rides it will take for you to get to work. Are the lines to the PUVs always super long?
- Is there a train, bus, taxi line nearby?
Accessibility and location are key. You might have the best unit but can’t seem to get out of it. If it’s difficult to get to, it’s not worth it, especially if you leave for work every single day. The cab rides you need to take everyday to get there faster can add up. You might be better off renting a much expensive place sans the accumulating transpo expenses. That way you also save time and energy from the commute.
- How’s the noise level?
Take note of trains, PUVs, constructions, neighborhood activities and shops. These may intervene in your quality of sleep or daily peace.
- What’s the nearest supermarket/mall/bank/payment centers/church/school/hospital?
It’s practical to have accessibility to these checked.
- How’s the general population?
If you’re picky about your neighbors, the poeple you’ll ride the elevator with everyday, you might want to observe the general feel of your future neighborhood. If you don’t feel like hanging out with the masses (and oh the trivial, annoying things they do, like hang clothes by the window, or the daily videoke sessions), you might want to consider a place that’s on the higher end.
You might feel embarrassed to ask this much questions the moment you meet your landlord/lady. After all, you want to give a nice first impression, right?
You can be creative in extracting all these details.
Start a nice little chat asking experiences about the past tenant. Why they left? What problems did they encounter in their past lessees?
You may even start a conversation with the guards-on-duty or the neighbors hanging out in the common areas.
You may also ask a nearby store about the neighborhood or the PUVs.
There’s no perfect unit. If there is, the price can get steep.
In the end, you’ll have to weigh in your negotiables and non-negotiables. From there, choose which features are you willing to sacrifice and which ones are necessary conveniences.