Apartments and house sharing are advertised in the following places:
Call to make an appointment to see the apartment or house. Be on time for your appointment. If you do not know the telephone number, go to the address given in the ad. Be sure you see the apartment or house before you rent it. It is recommended you view at least three (3) apartments before choosing one to rent. For safety purposes, it is also recommended you view apartments with a friend whenever possible.
Questions you should ask
- How much is the rent?
- Are the first and last months’ rent required?
- How much is the damage deposit?
- How much of the deposit is refundable?
- What utilities are included in the rent and what utilities do I pay?
- Is the electricity already turned on? Telephone? Gas?
- Is cable TV and Internet included?
- Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished?
- Is a lease or rental agreement required? On what term basis: month-to-month, 6 months, a year?
- How soon can I move in?
- How do I terminate the contract and what are the penalties if I do so before the contract end-date?
- Who is responsible for cleaning the apartment? For the damage? And the maintenance?
- Is smoking allowed?
- Are children and pets allowed?
- What is the pet deposit? Is it included in the overall deposit?
A furnished apartment has the basic furniture and appliances you will need. An unfurnished apartment
usually has no furniture included, but it may have appliances like a stove and refrigerator.
Other Things to Look For
- Location – Is the apartment/house near shopping, campus, and a bus stop? Is it on a quiet or busy street?
- Cleanliness – Look closely at how clean the apartment is. Are the curtains torn? Does the carpet have spots? Are the walls dirty? Is the shower clean? Is there mold anywhere (on the ceilings) Do the appliances work well?
- Parking – Find out if you will have a parking spot? What is the monthly payment? Is there street parking?
- Laundry – Does the apartment or apartment building have a laundry room? Do you have to pay? Is there a laundromat close by?
- Extras – Does the apartment include anything extra (swimming pool, dishwasher, garbage disposal, sauna, exercise room, rooftop BBQ area, etc.)
Signing a Lease or Rental Agreement
For your own protection you should sign a written agreement with your landlord. There are two kinds of written agreements: rental agreements and leases.
When you sign a rental agreement, you are agreeing to pay your rent on time and follow the rules of the
use of the building. With a rental agreement the landlord can ask you to move out of the apartment at
any time by giving you 20 days’ notice. He/she can also raise rent, but must give you notice in advance. Also, you are free to move out at any time after giving the landlord 20 days’ notice.
When you sign a lease you agree to pay rent for a specified period of time, usually 6 to 12 months, but
sometimes as much as 2 years. During that time the landlord cannot raise the rent or ask you to move
out (unless you do not follow the rules in the agreement). But, you must pay rent for the entire time of
the lease, even if you have to move out earlier. For example, if you leave the apartment after 4 months
and have signed a 6-month lease, you must pay 2 months’ rent after you have left. It is not wise to sign a
lease when you first move to Seattle. It is better to sign a rental agreement so that you can leave in 30
days if you are not happy with the house or apartment. Remember: DO NOT SIGN A LEASE UNLESS YOU
ARE SURE THAT YOU WILL STAY THERE FOR THE ENTIRE TIME SPECIFIED IN THE LEASE.
Your Written Agreement Should Include Information About:
- Utilities included in the rent
- When the rent is due
- If the rent will increase if you allow other people to live with you
- Amount of damage deposit (if required)
- Amount of cleaning deposit (if required)
- Amount of cleaning deposit refundable
- Any other fees or costs
- Statement about whom is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the apartment
- Statement about what is required to terminate the agreement
Statement about who has the right to enter the apartment and when