7 Important Things to Know Before Moving into Your Los Angeles Apartment

Today’s L.A. home searchers are realizing that renting has many potential advantages over buying.

For example, tenants aren’t expected to make any major repairs and can easily pick up and move at the end of their lease. With no hefty down payments or real estate taxes to come up with, rentals are a lot easier to get into. It’s not only the low move-in and move-out costs that make the life of a renter so appealing. Apartments, in particular, tend to come with amenities such as pools, gyms, and clubhouses, and if you’re going to be living in Southern California, you’ll probably love having access to these features without the upkeep you’d be responsible for as a homeowner.

While leasing an apartment provides a more carefree lifestyle than purchasing a home and is a smaller commitment, there are still a few crucial decisions to be made early on in the relocation process.

Here at Suddath, we want you to be well informed as a future renter and, as local Los Angeles movers, we know what moving into an L.A. apartment entails. Following are some of the things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

1. Research the Neighborhood

Even if you already have your heart set on that perfect apartment, you should still do a bit more research if you aren’t already familiar with the area. First of all, you’ll want to know what shops and other amenities you’ll have nearby. Seemingly small conveniences such as gas stations, grocery stores, and gyms in the vicinity can make a huge difference in your everyday quality of life.

You’ll also want to think about safety and look into crime rates in the area. Try to spend time getting acquainted with the neighborhood, possibly even talking to some of the residents. The age-old advice about cruising through a neighborhood at night before deciding to move there still holds, since some of the roughest areas can seem deceptively serene during the day.

2. Read the Terms of the Lease

With all the hustle and bustle surrounding a move, there may be a temptation to just skim over the lease before signing, but as with any contract, it’s worth your time to slow down and carefully go over the terms and conditions. Thoroughly reviewing the lease agreement will reveal important information such as how and when to pay the rent and what the maintenance and upkeep involves.

If there is something you want to know that isn’t specifically spelled out in the lease, ask your landlord. The responsibilities of the tenant that are listed in writing are the most pertinent and enforceable, especially when it comes to significant financial matters such as the guidelines for breaking the lease.

3. Find Out Which Utilities You Will Be Paying

Another subject that will likely be outlined in your rental agreement is the matter of utilities. California landlords are responsible for paying for water, sewer, and trash; however, tenants are typically required to foot the bill for other services such as electricity, gas, cable, and internet. That said, don’t assume that you won’t be indirectly paying for water and garbage collection.

Sometimes, to get around legal requirements, landlords will add a surcharge to cover water and waste disposal. This is fairly common but be sure to read the fine print so you can budget for it. Regarding electricity and any other utilities, you will be responsible for paying, contact those companies in advance to make sure everything will be transferred into your name on your official move-in date.

Oftentimes, a list of utility companies and their phone numbers will be included in your move-in folder, along with other useful information.

4. Inspect the Apartment for Pre-existing Damage

Since leasing an apartment is virtually always a temporary arrangement, you should already be thinking about getting your security deposit back.

Once you’ve signed the lease and handed over the cashier’s check, the next order of business is to inspect the unit and document any pre-existing defects or damages. Ask for a move-in/move-out checklist, which will specify items the landlord plans to examine after you leave to assess damage to the unit.

When it’s time to move out, your landlord may not remember the exact condition the unit was in, so it’s important to document everything yourself. Now is the time to nitpick your new place. Doing so will protect you from being charged for any damage that was already present when you moved in. Look for cosmetic defects like cracks in walls, carpet stains, and anything else that is amiss.

You’ll also want to save the list that tells you exactly what to clean when you move out. For example, you may not realize that you are required to scrub behind the refrigerator and stove and also replace any burned-out light bulbs around the house. Your landlord will mark up the cost of replacing incidental items, which is why it’s a good idea to handle small maintenance tasks as they come up.

You will also be expected to alert the landlord promptly whenever larger maintenance problems arise while you’re living there. Your landlord has to pay for major repairs, but ongoing communication about these matters is vital. Again, you should find information about these kinds of issues in the lease and on your move-in/out checklist.

Speaking of the condition of the apartment, you may also want to discuss the possibility of painting the walls or making other customizations during your stay. Oftentimes, landlords will allow you to paint the walls as long as you repaint them back to the original color before you move out. Typically, with large complexes, they won’t allow you to make any permanent changes to the neutral décor, but some smaller-scale landlords may be willing to work out a deal, and even give you a break on the rent, in exchange for making certain agreed-upon improvements.

Although your apartment will likely be pristine and move-in ready, painting a room your favorite color can go a long way in making the new place feel like home, and the ability to do that may factor into your decision about whether to sign the lease. Just be sure to always get permission from the landlord in writing before painting or making other drastic changes.

5. Look into Renter’s Insurance

Although not always required as a condition of the lease, we always recommend renter’s insurance.

Even a gated community in the best part of town can become the target of thieves, but a renter’s policy isn’t just for break-ins. Renter’s coverage insures your belongings in case of fire, water damage, and more. As seasoned Los Angeles movers, we’ve heard numerous horror stories about disasters affecting apartment dwellers, and your landlord may require you to carry renter’s insurance anyway. Again, consult with the lease agreement, but renter’s coverage is typically very affordable and worth the small monthly payment. 

Be forewarned that your landlord’s insurance is more likely to cover the actual building than your personal belongings, which is why investing in your own renter’s policy is always a good idea. If you have an existing renter’s policy, your insurance agent should be able to quickly change it over to your new apartment. Be sure to get quotes based on the new address so you can allow room in your budget for this important kind of insurance.

6. Plan the Logistics of the Move

Once your final decision has been made and all the paperwork is signed, you’ll need to consider details such as when you’ll receive your keys, where you or the movers should park on moving day, and whether there are service elevators for large furniture. There’s also the matter of transporting your furniture and boxes from your old place to your new one. This can be a major undertaking if your unit is upstairs, or you just have a lot of stuff.

When you select Suddath for your local or long-distance move, you’ll be assigned a dedicated move coordinator who will give you peace of mind by working with you at every step in the relocation process.

7. Enlist the Help of a Los Angeles Moving Company

Even if you’re moving only a few things into a small apartment, hiring a local moving company like Suddath to do the heavy lifting can make your move go much more smoothly.

Not only are we a local Los Angeles company, but we are experienced apartment movers and fully equipped for the unique challenges of moving individuals, couples, and families into their new homes. Whether you opt for complete packing and unpacking services or just the loading, transporting, and unloading of your belongings, Suddath is ready to service your upcoming Los Angeles move and can tailor a package to fit your budget and needs. Get in touch today for a free moving quote.