The dream of many Nigerians is to rent or buy an apartment of their dreams. Moving to a new apartment can be very exciting, but finding a good one to rent could be a daunting task. There are things you should consider before the big step, so here are our five picks to make sure you’re prepared before you sign your name on that contract.
We’ve all been in the situation where we view an apartment highly recommended by an agent or agents and the first feeling is; Wow! What euphoria! The search for accommodation is over. Once your eyes set on it, you can already imagine yourself living quite comfortably in it, especially if you’d been shown less comfortable or utterly awful apartments.
I bet you’re certain you’ve hit the jackpot. This is the ONE! you tell yourself, but wait! Before you deposit that advance/holding fee: pause, assess the property and ask your agent the questions below. If possible, you may create a checklist before you leave to meet the agent to ensure you cover all bases.
- What is the condition?
Some apartments look decent or beautiful on the outside, but what you’ll find inside will discourage you. To avoid finding out about these discrepancies after having lived many months in the house, carefully check if there are any peeling ceiling boards, holes in the walls where insects live, broken windows etc. Also, check the rooms for cross-ventilation. Some apartments have bad ventilation due to architecture. Ensure that you’re careful to avoid this because during the sunny/hot times of the year, you will find living in it quite uncomfortable.
Furthermore, check the walls of the room for water marks left by erosion(water seeping into the walls especially in houses built on water-logged land) and confirm that all faucets and fixtures are working, and ask if you will need to carry out extra repairs or light fixtures. If you’re satisfied with the condition of the apartment, you can now go ahead with the payment. Try to negotiate the costs of extra repairs with the Landlord and ensure that you get affirmation that you can actually make changes to then apartment. You like the price, the area is great, but you need to see where you’re going to live. Here are a few things to take a closer look at:
- Pipes– be it gas, water or anything else, check for leaks.
- Sink faucets, shower heads and water– make sure water (both cold and hot) really comes out of the faucets and the shower head and it’s with a decent pressure. Also the toilet has to flush properly and thoroughly.
- Electricity and appliances should all be working. Check if all the lights or other electric devices are operational. Also check the air conditioner and the heater to see if they’re good for anything.
- Walls and windows. Check the windows to see if they open, close and lock properly. Also inspect the walls. The more walls in common (shared with adjoining apartments), the greater the chance of noise from next door.
- Unpaid utility/ PHCN Bills:
This trend of old tenants accruing huge amounts of PHCN Bills for new ones to pay is on the increase. This has become a great challenge to many new homeowners who inherit huge unpaid bills from ex-tenants. Thus, before you pay for your “dream apartment”, ask for the recent PHCN and Water works bills and check if the payments have been updated to the last month. It is your right as a tenant.
- Are you satisfied with the paperwork and Agreement documents?
Ask questions like: “How long is the tenancy Agreement” Will you be able to leave if the property disappoints? Will you have to pay renewal fees when your lease expires?
Read and understand the terms and conditions, if possible, get a lawyer to explain them before signing your name to avoid issues in the future. Also, take care to avoid any illegal Service Charge, It should be a good practice to always ask from the beginning the total amount of service charges and other charges you will be paying monthly or yearly if applicable. Some house owners are known to defraud their tenants by introducing some illegal payments or charges after you must have moved into the apartment. Asking from the beginning will save you a lot of headache. It’s a big move so you have to make sure you’re covered on every aspect so never sign a lease without seeing the apartment even if it’s a bargain. Second of all, our advice is not to sign a contract that has an automatic renewal clause, because you may not know what’s going to happen next year. Maybe you change work or move to a new city and a renewed contract would only force you to pay even if you’re not living there. Also, if you enjoy privacy, keep away from a lease that gives the landlord unlimited access without notification. Tenants have their rights and a landlord should be permitted without notice only in case of emergencies.
- Does the Location work for you?
Ensure that the area is easily accessible and in close proximity to other major areas such as markets, police stations and hospitals, for your safety and comfort.
Also, do a little research by asking around about the house you’re planning to move into. Visit it twice, once without the agent, since this is where you will be spending a long time in, you ought to ensure that it is Safe, secure and not prone to armed robbery or epidemics.
Also, ensure that the apartment is close to your work place and not too much of a commute or hard to find for your visiting friends and family.
- Avoid industrial Areas/ Markets or Public meeting Places:
Always avoid the temptation to rent an apartment in any area close to industries, markets or public meeting areas like churches or mosques due to cheaper rent because they tend to induce noise pollution and other health related risks/hazards. Make sure you directly or indirectly query the agent or landlord to find out the reason why the last tenant left or how long the last tenant stayed because the length of his or her stay will suggest that the place was either good to live or if it was unpleasant with a difficult landlord or nasty neighbors….. for access to several real estate professionals and agents to own your “dream home” and get value for your money.