Sep 16, 2012

Apartment Living - Part III

Based on the basic criteria in Apartment Living Part I, you've decided on an apartment community that you want to reside in. You've listened to my experiences in Apartment Living Part II, and signed your own lease. This entry is about some basic common sense things you need to pay attention to after you move in.

First and foremost, make sure you read the entire lease you signed. There are things you agreed to when you signed, even if the leasing agent didn't read it to you completely. Some tasks you may be responsible for, like changing burnt out light bulbs, changing furnace filters and batteries in the smoke alarms. Some things you aren't expected to do (landscaping, mowing the grass, snow plowing, fixing a leaky faucet), but the lease spells things out. When in doubt, simply call the office and ask.

Pets on leashes
Your lease also contains specific items about having pets and what your responsibilities are. Chances are, if they aren't in the apartment lease, you signed a "pet addendum" that explains what you are liable for, like keeping them on a leash, cleaning up after them, etc. Read that one closely, because if you violate anything in that, you may get a notice that you have to get rid of the pet, may be evicted or the property manager may decide to not renew your lease.

When living in an apartment, most people do not watch soap operas, because they live in one by simply paying attention to what is going on around them. There are eyes everywhere observing what is occurring in the community, so if you do violate the lease (especially with pets), chances are that someone saw it and will report it to the office. Once reported to the office, the complaint becomes a hard copy piece of paper, and it goes in your file folder. With enough paper, you can be evicted or your lease is not renewed.

Maintenance staff are typically the ones that deliver messages from the office. If it is a warning letter or even an eviction notice, don't bite the head off the messenger. They did not write the policy, they are just doing a task they are responsible for, delivering the letter. If a warning notice is issued to you, chances are that you violated the lease in some way. If you dispute it, call or visit the main office. The maintenance person is not able to resolve the issue, they are just bringing it to your attention. I hate being the "harbinger of doom," but am required to do it.

Understand that employees of the property reserve the right to enter your apartment for any reasonable reason. They are not "violating the right to privacy," they have a reason to enter the property they own if it is an emergency (such as a fire, smell a gas leak, or water leak) or if it has been reported to the office of a violation of the lease (excessive noise, tremendous odor, bugs, etc.). Typically if there is going to be an inspection, you will receive a notice a few days before explaining what is going on and when it will occur. Yes, you may have the right to refuse entrance for something like that by contacting the office in writing, but there may be things that you cannot refuse entry for. I do have master keys that give me access to over 300 apartments in the communities that I cover. Again, it comes back to contacting the office.

Communication is the key to apartment life. If you don't talk to the property manager, don't be surprised about what happens. Remember, their company OWNS the property, you are just renting the space. Hate to say it, but is like living in a storage unit, you don't OWN it, you are just existing in it.

I am fortunate to live in a community where I can grill on my patio, have a fire bowl, am allowed to have 2 pets (even a horse if I can stable it), and have a lot of latitude. But, that is why I agreed to live here; I chose the community based on my criteria, read the lease, understand what is expected of me, and keep in constant contact with the office managers. Communication is the key to human life...keep the channels open, and everything will work itself out...


  1. I agree that communication and being well-informed is the best way to equip oneself when moving to a new home. So, renters ask your prospective landlords questions and learn to speak out so you can express whatever is in your mind.

    1. And what you might not know or understand yet, but you heard another resident mention in passing...