Part of my job as a real estate agent is to help renters find a suitable place to rest their heads for a year or two. You'd think that helping a renter would be easier than helping a home-buyer, but that is not always the case. Chicago’s rental market, like in most big cities, is extremely competitive. Supply fluctuates based on the season and some units get rented in less than 24 hours. Sometimes renters are so stressed about finding something before their current lease is up, they make quick decisions based on one thing or another. 

To save you from disappointment when you move in and before you hand over fees, deposits, and potential a bodily organ - check the 10 boxes below prior to taking the leap into a lease.

Top 5 things to look for in a rental:

  1. Noise: Check out the area surrounding the rental. Are their nearby bars that stay open until all hours of the night? They may not be bustling when you visit the rental during the day, but be sure to consider those nighttime hours. Are there train tracks or fire stations nearby? Will that noise bother you? Also, spend enough time in the unit (if possible) to see whether or not you can hear the neighbors next door or the neighbors above/below you. If you’re choosing to live in a busy area, open the windows and hear what it sounds like when you let in some fresh air. Lord knows you’ll want to do that once in a while.
  2. Trash: Do you have to walk outside, around the building, down the street, uphill (potentially in the snow) both ways to get to your dumpster? Is there a garbage shoot on your floor or do you have to take the trash out down a flight of stairs? Let's be honest, some days you may not want to leave your couch, but garbage removal is key. No one wants a stinky apartment.
  3. Laundry: You may or may not be shocked to know that not all buildings have laundry in the building. Make sure it is! Also, make sure you don’t have to go outside to do it. Especially in Chicago, and cold climate cities, it gets tough to do laundry when you have to bare the elements just to change every load. Make sure to check out the actual machines too. Is there mold growing in the washer? If they are shared machines, does it look like the other tenants in the building are clean? How are you supposed to feel clean when you’re doing your laundry in a filthy basement?!
  4. Water Pressure: Most people forget about this one. Make sure the check the water pressure in the showers and sinks. If there is an issue, make sure to bring it up with the landlord before you sign the lease!
  5. Location: Duh! I know you already know this, but there’s more to it!  We all know that location is important. But be sure to think about: what time of day with your place get sunlight? Will it get sunlight? Is there a bus stop out front? Will you have people hanging in your doorway at all hours? Rental or not, but sure to take all aspects of your life into account when looking at finding a new living space!

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