A Big Mistake: Moving Into an Incomplete Apartment

So your anxious about moving in.  You tell the community manager the date you want to move in the apartment and he/she promises you the apartment will be ready.  Unfortunately, you learn the hard way, like so many other renters, that sometimes promises aren't always kept in the apartment industry. 

The manager walks you to your new home only to find out that some things in the unit are simply not done!  You see outlet covers off the wall, carpet stains, wires hanging out of who knows what, and there is still some painting that needs to be done.  The manager is apologizing profusely and you are ready to blow your top because you know in a few days the electricity will be cut off in your old apartment!  Uh oh!

This scenario happens more often than you think in the apartment industry.  On one hand, you have over anxious apartment renters trying to speed up a move-in process on an unfinished suite that may take anywhere from one to three weeks depending on the condition of the unit.  Some are left with serious bug problems, electrical problems, pipe leaks, broken appliances, fixtures, and filthy walls and carpets.  Then on the other hand, you have over anxious leasing consultants and/or managers who quickly take cash and signatures from future residents while failing to stay on top of maintenance and outside contractors' duties.  What an unnecessary headache!

You can avoid the previous scenario if you do just two things:  don't sign or drop off cash unless you have seen the ready suite and have walked the suite with the manager or consultant--don't believe promises, believe what you see instead.  When a renter is anxious, excited or "just can't wait," mistakes will happen and that's when what once was up comes down quickly in the business relationship.  You may want to take a trusted relative or friend with you who isn't as excited about your potential new apartment.  He or she most likely will watch out for things that you may overlook due to your excitement.

If you do accept the keys and have handed money over to management and the suite is still not ready, you can ask that your first month's rent be prorated.  Basically what this means is rather than pay the full months rent, you are deducted the amount from the total due until you are able to officially move-in.  You can also request your first month's rent check back or ask that it isn't deposited until agreed upon maintenance issues are handled prior to move-in.  But whatever you do, don't hand over any more money, sign anymore paperwork, or bring any of your items to the apartment when work still needs to be done.  Otherwise, maintenance can say that they couldn't complete a job, because your belongings were in the way.  You don't want to give them any excuse not to get your apartment ready.  Also, if you have already received the keys to your place, take the time to take photos, video and note any significant wear in the unit.  Once the apartment is officially prepped, be sure to do a walk-through with management or a leasing consultant.

Nicholl McGuire

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media