A basement apartment is often more affordable than a traditional apartment because the lighting and the feel of a basement differs from a traditional apartment. Many homeowners try to make extra money by turning their basements into apartments. Therefore, you may be dealing with a first-time landlord or living beneath your landlord, which may make the situation uncomfortable. A clear understanding of boundaries and guidelines will make it a positive experience.
Who Will Have Access?
Some basement apartments are not as closed off as traditional apartments. You should be able to lock your doors expect written notice if your landlord intends to enter. If there is a laundry room in the basement, find out if it will give the landlord access to your apartment. Verify that you have a separate outdoor entrance. Preferably, there should not be a direct entrance from the landlord’s part of the home to your apartment.
Is This Apartment Approved as a Rental Property by the City?
Many homeowners try to rent out their place without getting the apartment inspected by the city. When they do this, they cut corners and you may end up dealing with plumbing, heating and safety problems. An inspected and approved apartment is an indication that the landlord is taking care of things and will make it easier on you as a tenant.
What Is the Parking Situation?
Parking is generally limited in the city and other areas. Find out if you have a parking space in their driveway or if you must park on the street. This may not be a deal breaker, but knowing this can prevent hard feelings between you and your upstairs neighbor in the future.
What Are You Responsibilities for Utilities and Heating?
Find out if you have a separate electric meter for your apartment, and verify that you have your own thermostat. The landlord may be willing to cover your gas and electric bills as well as water, but you should be clear on what is covered and what is not before you sign the contract.
Is There Regular Pest Control?
Basement apartments tend to have more issues with mice, spiders and other insects. Find out if this has been a problem in the past. Ask whether the landlord will cover regular pest control, or if he will pay for pest control as needed.
Miriam C has been writing since 2007. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Brigham Young University. Among her many jobs, Miriam C has taught middle-school students. She's written for Families.com and other clients on finances, family and education.