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7 Questions To Ask Before Renewing Your Apartment Lease

For many renters, the annual ritual of renewing a lease raises the question, “Is this still the best apartment for me?”

It’s an important question to ask—after all, it’s your home—and multiple considerations may factor into the answer. But the decision isn’t just whether to stay in your apartment or move. Even if you love your apartment, you may wonder if you’re getting a good deal.

Renewing a lease is a process, says Libby McMillan, editor at ApartmentGuide. She recommends first doing some research and soul-searching, to help determine whether your current place is still a good fit both financially and personally. If you decide to stay, she says, you may be able to lower your rent or secure extra perks to make the apartment even more appealing.

Start by asking yourself these seven questions.

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1. Is this still the best apartment for me?

A lease renewal is a great time to take stock, says McMillan. Are you happy in the apartment and in the neighborhood, or could a change give you a new perspective and renewed excitement? Also, says McMillan, take into account any changes that might happen in the next year, either professional or personal. Might you be switching jobs? Getting married? Starting a family? It’s never too early to start preparing for potential life changes.

2. Am I paying too much?

If price is a major concern, look at the rental rates being offered to new tenants in your community and in other neighborhoods, says McMillan, and weigh the pros and cons of moving. Nearby apartments might be offering perks like a free garage space or a gym membership—though perhaps with a trade-off, like committing to a two-year lease.

woman typing on laptop3. How can I minimize rent increases?

A rent increase may be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to just accept the new amount. Ask management if they’re willing to lower the price in exchange for signing a longer lease, suggests McMillan, and don’t forget to remind them what a great tenant you’ve been. Ask, too, if auto-paying your rent would offer you any savings. And be aware of any caps on allowable rent increases. She recommends checking the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. “You’ll find tenant rights for every state,’’ she says. “Learn what yours are.”

4. What terms can I negotiate?

Price isn’t the only factor when negotiating with your landlord. If the building offers more desirable units, ask to move into one for the same price. Or perhaps you can nab an amenity, like a parking spot, for a discounted rate. If your apartment community offers a referral reward, ask for the offer in writing after moving in. “You might offset your rent a bit by sending a friend to the leasing office,” says McMillan. If you need flexibility, inquire about switching to a month-to-month lease, even if it means an increase in rent. “Don’t, however, stay long-term in a month-to-month, as it could hurt your credit rating,” she warns.

5. Have there been any changes to my lease?

Come renewal time, management may update the language of the lease, which could have additional fees or implications for that lease period and beyond. But it’s your responsibility to read the lease closely and compare it with your current one, cautions McMillan. “Don’t do this in a hurry,” she says, “as that could be costly to you.”

couple cleaning windows6. What upgrades are available?

Ask your manager what upgrades are planned for your apartment community and when your unit is expected to receive them. New cabinets and appliances, or even just a fresh coat of paint, may be enough to help you decide to stay put. “Larger apartment complexes typically create maintenance and upgrade plans as part of their budget process, so this is an easy conversation to have,” says McMillan. “If there’s a model, go see it, particularly if you’ve lived in your apartment a few years. It may hold some surprises.”

7. Can I add a roommate?

Renewal time is a good time to add a roommate, says McMillan, and typically results in a new lease with both of your names on it. Just be careful with your selection; if your roommate doesn’t pay on time, that could potentially hurt your credit rating. Discuss his or her financial situation in detail before moving in together.

Make an informed call on whether or not to renew your apartment lease, then make sure to get a quote on renters insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency for extra peace of mind.

Read More: Sometimes all your current space needs is a color refresh. Check out these DIY painting tips before getting started.

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    Leave a comment

  1. Trevor Clarke says,

    Hi am having financial difficulties at the moment so i won’t be able to renew my apartment insurance,i have to try and keep my auto policy.

  2. Manuel Gobzalez. says,

    I am happy leaving here nothing has been up dated since 11 years ago, when I started to rent the townhouse, the increase any renewed lease alway I ask the lease office to make me a little discount and the have been done. What I can do for get paint and change the carpet ???? Can you help me with this. Or tell me what tod do. Thanks.

    • Maria says,

      This is a very helpful and timely information which everybody may not know, like me. I can use these in negotiating my lease renewal. Thank you Geico, I appreciate you.

  3. Walter Bryant says,

    I have been in this apartment since February of 2014, and there has not been any updates since I moved here. The only update has been a new smoke alarm system which in my opinion is too sensitive for cooking. If you just make toast it will go off if the toast is too dark. I can’t cook Turkeys, chicken in the oven for as soon as you open the oven door the alarm will go off. They have gone up on the rent every year. Also it doesn’t have to be any smoke like burning something. It will go off by just fumes (aroma) that will set it off. When I need to thaw something for cooking, I like to put it in the sink to thaw, but i had to sit whatever I’m defreezing on the counter for fear that the sink will back up and cover my frozen food with waist that contaminates my food. I spoke to them about the issue and they say they can’t find the cause. Aslo the water is slightly rusty, from untreated water filtration.I have proof by the drain tray when I wash dishes. No disposal, no dish washer, and no microwave. I started paying rent at $ 646.00 per month, the next year it went up to $679.00, then to $693.00 per yr, and now to $700.00 per yr. There is no cap. My income is
    $1004.00 per mo. Social Security. The rest pays utilities, phone service. If it weren’t for extra help I could not stay here. This is rediculous. Give me some advice as to what to do, and I appreciate it very much. Thanks

    • Someone who saves says,

      Build yourself a time machine, go back in time, and instead of spending everything you made put some away for retirement so you won’t have depend on others to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

  4. Joan kennet says,

    I live in a relatively new luxury senior apartment bldg. with no rent increases. All necessary amenities, free garage parking and I have the best apt. In bldg …Thank you fit your consideration but please concern yourself with my car insurance and nothing more! I have been contacted today alone by over 40 insurance agents from too many insurance agencies… I don’t know why they contacted me as I am content with Geico unless you want me to apply your info re: cheaper apartments to my car insurance policy and look for new policy?

  5. JoAnn Williams says,

    Thanks for the information you have shared with me. I will take it in consideration if I decide to move or upgrade.

  6. Theda Gardette says,

    Loved that article concerning seven things to look for when getting a new lease and bargaining tips! ?? Just in time , I’m praying on moving into a new townhouse!