The search for an apartment to live in can be a frustrating and overwhelming process, especially with so many options available. Depending on your location as well as your needs, living in an apartment complex may seem like a great option. However, before you make the decision to move into one, here is what you need to know about these structures, including what they feature, and the pros and cons that you may encounter living in one of the units.
What is an apartment complex? An apartment complex is a structure that comprises of apartment residences. In most cases, an apartment complex is managed by a property management company. There is usually a property manager on the ground to carry out a variety of tasks, including inspecting the grounds and the building to ensure that it is well maintained and safe, screen tenants before they move in, and enforce the terms of the lease agreement.
Depending on your location, features that you may find in an apartment complex include parking spaces, fitness lounge, patios, community lounge, street lights, clubhouse, handicap parking, pool, and a playground among others. Living in an apartment complex, you will share these amenities with a community of neighbors. The number of units that you will find in an apartment complex varies widely from one neighborhood to another.
An apartment complex is a building that contains self-contained units occupied by different tenants. Other than the residents, the community in an apartment complex may also comprise of staff living and working in the complex, as well as the occasional guests.
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Features of an apartment complex
Apartment complexes have a variety of features that are meant to be used by the community. Here are some of the common features you may find:
1. Parking and transportation amenities
Apartment complexes typically have transportation and parking amenities that tenants can take advantage of. Depending on the apartment complex, they may include assigned parking spaces, handicap parking, covered parking, bike storage lockers, and public transportation access.
2. Pet amenities
For apartment complexes that allow tenants to keep pets, a variety of pet amenities may be provided, including dog waste bags, dog washing station, and a dog park.
3. Laundry amenities
Not too many apartment complexes feature washers and dryers in each separate unit, and you are more likely to find communal laundry amenities like a shared laundry room or a laundry service in more luxurious apartments.
4. Recreation amenities
Apartment complexes typically feature common spaces where residents can unwind and interact with their neighbors. Some of the recreation amenities commonly provided in apartment complexes include fitness centers, media room, pool, clubhouse, spa, community classes and events, and outdoor areas such as gardens and backyards.
5. Family amenities
You are likely to find family-oriented amenities such as playgrounds, proximity to schools, and afterschool/babysitting services in apartment complexes that target families.
6. Miscellaneous amenities
Since there are several tenants living in an apartment complex, their safety is a top priority. Security amenities that may be featured in an apartment complex, include a security guard, gated access, security cameras, security lights, or a doorman.
7. In-unit amenities
The apartments in an apartment complex also feature amenities of their own that tenants have exclusive access to. They include air conditioning, a patio or balcony, in-unit storage, high-speed internet, satellite or cable TV, and Wi-Fi among others. Most of these apartments also feature a variety of amenities, including a refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher.
Inquiries before moving into an apartment complex
When you find an apartment complex that ticks all the right boxes for you, it may be tempting to move in right away. However, before you make any rash decisions, it is important to be informed about what to expect when you live in an apartment complex. Here are some of the areas you may want to inquire on.
- Renter’s insurance – You will want to inquire about renter’s insurance since most apartment management companies require you to obtain it. Renter’s insurance provides you with coverage in case of damage as a result of loss events such as theft, fires, or floods. The policy provides you with protection against losses of personal property that is found within the rental property. It can also provide you with coverage to some extent in case you have an accident within your rental unit. Getting renter’s insurance is always the right way to go, but many apartment complexes usually have minimum requirements when it comes to property and liability coverage, so you will want to ask is needed and take into consideration any added costs as a result.
- The security deposit – When you move into one of the units of an apartment complex, you are usually required to make a security deposit that may be equivalent to one or two months’ rent. To avoid misunderstandings and protect your interests, ensure that your lease agreement is clear on how the security deposit is to be used and refunded, including the allowable deductions. If the lease does not provide clear guidelines on how the security deposit is to be handled, don’t hesitate to make inquiries.
- Repairs and maintenance – Repairs and maintenance activities in an apartment complex are taken care of by an expert contracted by the property management company. However, the response time of the management company when it comes to taking care of repairs may not be what you expect. For instance, if an air conditioner malfunctions during a hot summer day, it can take days or even weeks for the company to send someone to repair it. In some cases, there may be on-site staff in an apartment complex to take care of all your needs, while others have employees who are on-call and will only be available for the most necessary repairs. In the case of the latter, it is important that you understand what constitutes an emergency repair. Remember to inquire about apartment staff accessing your unit to carry out repairs as well since you probably don’t want it to occur on a regular basis or without being given reasonable notice.
- Rent increases – In most apartment complexes, the rent is usually increased on a yearly basis at lease renewal. On average, rents are increased by 4%, but some apartment complexes will increase the rents by as much as 10-20 percent when the time comes for lease renewal. An apartment that you are currently able to pay rent for comfortably may not be affordable the next year. Ensure that you inquire about the typical rent increases, and also check your lease to find out if a maximum increase is provided.
- Utility billing – In some apartment complexes, you will find that the utilities are billed separately for each unit. In others, the cost of utilities is based on the utilization of the whole complex, with the total being divided equally. In case of the latter, if you rarely spend time at home or you simply don’t use the air conditioner or heater on a regular basis, you will end up paying more than what you expected.
- Moving out – In some apartment complexes, if you don’t give a notice 60 days prior to moving out, your lease is automatically renewed. In others, if you fail to give the appropriate notice, you will be charged on a monthly basis. Therefore, it is important to inquire about the appropriate notification timeline
Pros of living in an apartment complex
- Repairs and maintenance are taken care of – You don’t have to worry about taking care of repairs and maintenance when you live in an apartment complex since these services are handled by the building management. This means no mowing lawns or fixing that leaky faucet.
- A community of neighbors – When you live in an apartment complex, you are surrounded by neighbors who could potentially become lifelong companions.
- A variety of amenities provided – Living in an apartment complex could provide access to a wide variety of amenities that you might not get when you buy a home such as a gym, a state-of-the-art security system, and covered parking.
- Generally cheaper – When compared to buying a home, renting an apartment in an apartment complex is generally cheaper. Furthermore, since an apartment is a smaller space, the utilities are also cheaper.
Cons of living in an apartment complex
- Limited space – On average, apartments are smaller than houses. Therefore, by moving into an apartment complex, you will be sacrificing space. This may mean that you won’t get enough storage space. In addition to this, you won’t have access to private outdoor space which may limit your day-to-day life.
- Living in close proximity to your neighbors – Depending on where your apartment is located in the apartment complex, you will have neighbors on both sides of your unit as well as above and below you. This means that you will have to get accustomed to noise constantly filtering into your unit and disturbing your peace and quiet.
- Potentially strict rules and regulations – All the tenants in an apartment complex are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations provided in the lease agreement. This means that you may not be able to keep pets or make modifications to your unit.
An apartment complex comprises of a number of units, a community of tenants, and a variety of amenities. However, before you move into one, ensure that you ask all the important questions on various aspects such as potential rental increases, utility billing, and repairs and maintenance among others. In addition to this, it is also important to weigh the various pros and con that come with living in an apartment complex in order to make an informed decision.