Things to Bear in Mind When Renting an Apartment
Text David Gilmarth
Things to bear in mind when renting an apartment.
Hunting for an apartment can be very time-consuming and often frustrating. In Moscow, the experience is made more difficult by the relative lack of recently-built, good-quality properties. Choice is limited and prices are high.
Here you will find tips on what to consider before you begin your search and different methods you can use to find an apartment that meets your needs. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure you find a home that suits your requirements, and that you will enjoy living in.
Research - Manage your own expectations!
No matter whether you are in Moscow as a corporate employee, an Embassy representative or in a private capacity, the first and most important thing to take into account is your budget, and what you can realistically expect to get for it. The rental market in Moscow suffers from high demand, limited supply and spoiled landlords. As a result, Moscow is an expensive place to live. Make enquiries of local Real Estate agencies or Relocation providers; they all monitor the market and have price guides available. Read the Moscow Times, and check their quarterly Real Estate updates. Make sure that you know what property in a particular neighbourhood goes for, and don’t let the agency bamboozle you.
Your Wish List – Know what you want
Before you start your search, whether an agency or on your own, make a list of “Must Haves”. Do you need a balcony? Do you need a furnished apartment, or will you bring your own? Is secure parking a requirement? Renovated or not? Classic or Modern?
When you do start your search, it is essential that the agent who is helping you understands all your requirements, to ensure that they do not waste your time viewing properties that do not meet your basic requirements.
Location Location Location
Is it close to your place of employment?
Is the neighborhood safe?
Is it close to an International school?
Are there parks in the neighbourhood?
Is it close to stores, banks and the post office?
Is it close to the metro?
Does it have secure parking?
At this point it is timely to mention the most important aspect: your relationship with the landlord. How present will the owner be in your life? It is acceptable for the landlord to come to the apartment occasionally, to check up, or to collect bills. On the other hand you do not want someone who will arrive out of the blue on a regular basis demanding access to his property. Also, if the owner seems argumentative or difficult in negotiations, it may be better to walk away.
The Contract – protect yourself
Before you sign a lease, inspect the apartment for physical damage. This is crucial: You don’t want to be held responsible for damage you didn’t cause. Take photos (or make a videotape) of existing damage, date them and get the landlord to sign them. Insist that any violations be corrected before you move in and that any repairs or improvements to be made are recorded in the lease agreement. Ensure that the agency you use perform an inventory of all furniture and fittings, and get it signed by the landlord.
Ensure that the contract clearly assigns responsibility for all costs. Usually the landlord covers basic utilities with the client paying the cost of Internet, Satellite TV and long-distance calls.
Read your lease carefully before you sign it. Preferably, have a legal expert check it and make sure that your rights are protected. For example, you might want to insert a clause that releases you from the lease if your employer transfers you out of town. Never sign a lease if you are uncomfortable with any part of it.
Get the documents checked. Is the person you are meeting the registered owner? Does he have permission from all registered residents to lease out the property? You need to be sure that you will not have people turning up on your doorstep demanding to be let in to “their” apartment.
Is the property insured, and are your personal items covered? If not, it may be a good idea to take out insurance. With so many properties being renovated, accidents happen and it is wise to at least have cover for water damage.
The Agency – get your money’s worth
In all likelihood, you or your employer will have paid commission to an agency or a relocation provider to help you find your new home. Usually you will receive a guarantee of assistance from them – make sure that you use it. If you have problems with the landlord, or if some contractual obligation has not been fulfilled, get the agency onto the case, and get them to fix it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – that is their job.
There are a thousand things that can go wrong with renting a new home. If you are careful, get the right assistance, and stick to your own wish list, at least you are giving yourself the best chance of enjoying your stay.