Using Craigslist to Rent an Apartment – Questions to Ask

The online classified website, Craigslist.org, is home to many postings and advertisements. Although most are for items that you can buy or trade, you will also find apartments listed for rent. Before you agree to rent an apartment from someone you met on Craigslist, there are some important questions you should ask. What are they?

Question: What is the monthly rent?

This question is important to ask even if the landlord outlines the monthly rent on Craigslist. Why? Because they may try to change the price on you. Also, some property owners have multiple properties and apartments for rent. Don’t let a simple mistake cost you more money in rent. Ask before you arrange a showing and then ask again before you sign your official lease.

Question: Aside from the first month’s rent, what else must I pay?

This question is important because it will let you know if you can truly afford the apartment in question. It is not uncommon for a landlord to ask a new tenant for a security deposit and first month’s rent upfront. Others go as far as requesting your rent for the last month too. If you are on a tight budget, this might not be possible.

Question: What type of personal information do you need from me?

This question not only enables you to be prepared when meeting with the landlord or signing the lease, but it can also alert you to a scam. Many landlords like doing background checks on new tenants; however, some scammers have used this as an opportunity to get social security numbers. Don’t refuse the background check if you really want the apartment, but see if your background check can be done without your social security number or if you can order it yourself.

Question: Can I see the apartment?

The answer to this question should always be yes. You should never agree to rent an apartment or sign a lease without seeing it first. Make sure the apartment is like it was described. This question can also alert you to possible Craigslist apartment rental scams. As previously stated, some scammers will pose as property owners and claim they need your social security number, bank account information, or credit card number. They will be dead set against a showing because they don’t have an apartment to show; they made it up.

The above mentioned questions are just a few of the many that you will want to ask a property owner before agreeing to rent an apartment that you found listed on Craigslist. You should ask these questions before arranging a showing to save yourself time, money, and a hassle.