5 Things Everyone Forgets to Check When Apartment Hunting

#2. Make Sure Everything Actually Works


Think about how many things you own that need to be plugged in. Not just big things like the TV and laptop, but all of the little things that, once they're in their place, you don't really think about anymore. Lamps, clocks, modem, speakers, chargers, router, cable box, video game console, electric children, and on and on. Now imagine if when you moved in, only half of the electrical sockets actually worked. That's what has happened to me in the last three places I've lived.

See, it's not about having more things to plug in than you have places to plug them. That's what surge protectors are for, even above protecting against surges. It's about being able to arrange the place in a fashion that 1) doesn't look completely fucking stupid and 2) is functional. Right now, every outlet on the north and east sides of my house is dead, which means that everything in my living room and dining room can only be arranged one way. And I could have found that out if I had just tested them when I was looking at the place.

"Yeah, the cover's off, but it still works. Go ahead, cram a fork in there."

How? Carry something small with you that you can plug in. You know those little nightlights they make for kids? You can buy one of those for like $2 at pretty much any store in existence. And if the potential landlord gives you a funny look when you start plugging it in, just give them a polite "I don't mean to seem picky. We just have a lot of things that require outlets. This shows us how we'll have to arrange our furniture. So stop looking at me like that before I fuck your head off."

While you're at it, turn on the faucets. Especially the shower. Because if there's a water pressure problem, you can safely assume that it's not going to be fixed, ever. A problem like that pretty much requires extensive plumbing work, and they're just not going to do that. It's much better to find that out now before you spend the next year trying to rinse your hair under a mounted hamster bottle.

The exact second that insanity set in.

And before you part ways, clarify the parking situation. I've heard more than once in my life about friends who found out on moving day that they only got one space per apartment. Being a couple, they had two cars. So there ends up being a huge clusterfuck scramble for that extra car to park along the street -- not between the couple, but between all of the other couples living in the same complex who also have no place to put their spouse's car. In those cases, it's almost easier to ramp your car onto the fucking roof like an old Burt Reynolds movie.

OK, now you can move in. No tricks, no yelling "wait" this time. It's finally time to start packing. One thing, though: Don't pack your camera. You'll need it to ...

#1. Take Photos of Every Minor Bullshit Flaw


When you're moving in, before you put the first box of dildos on the kitchen floor, go in with your camera, turn on all the lights, and start hunting for damage. Be OCD about it. Every minor scratch, dent, hole, crack, and stain. Document it all. If you have a digital camera, use that. There's a reason for this, and it's not so you can have something to show your future kids over a s'mores-and-pajamas party.

You've talked to your landlord, and she seems like a really nice lady. She's had problems with people in the past, so she explained that some of her strict rules are just to prevent things like that from happening again. You smiled and nodded, reassuring her that you are a perfect model citizen. Then you parted on the best of terms, leaving you to move in. Now is when you have to just go ahead and assume that she is a crooked piece of shit whose only desire is to fuck you over.

"I won't let up on you until you're sucking cocks in hell!"

Out of all the landlords I've known, approximately every last one of them will do everything in their power to strip as much of your deposit as humanly possible when you move out. That's because most of them put that deposit in the bank with the rest of their money, and it eventually gets spent. So when you move, they have to hand back that cash out of their own pocket. They can and will find things to make that number smaller, I don't give a fuck how nice they are.

Now, yes, you are allowed by law (in the U.S. -- I don't know about your weird laws in your weird non-America country) to have a certain amount of wear and tear through everyday, normal living. But that is an extremely gray area, and if pressed by both parties, it often ends up in the hands of lawyers. If you do not have photographic evidence to back up your case, it will boil down to their word against yours. And let's face it, the mere fact that they own a house and you don't means that they most likely have more money than you, so they can afford better lawyers.

"Is it true that you're a lying asshole? May I remind you that you are under oath?"

That's why we want digital copies of those photos. Because digital images can be easily and instantly dated, whereas printed photos are much harder. If you don't have someone who really knows their shit, they will assume that the print photos could have been taken two weeks ago, in an attempt by you to get out of paying for damage that you're actually responsible for. Remember, as much as we switched into "My landlord is the devil" mode, she's also thinking of you as a piece of shit who is just trying to fuck her out of money that you owe.

It's all about covering your ass. It's perfectly fine to be polite and to assume the best from people, but when it comes to your money and your comfort, many of us have found that it's best to just expect them to be cocksuckers and be pleasantly surprised if they're not. Because as smooth and wonderful as things may go while you're living there and giving that person your hard-earned money, situations have a tendency to change when it's time to part ways and you have to say, "OK, now about that $800 you owe me ..."

John has a Twitter thing and a Facebook fan page thing where he says words.

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