Crucial questions to ask your neighbors—before you move in

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In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.

No one wants to move into a new apartment only to discover the baby upstairs is a screamer, the landlord's about to double the rent and the restaurant on the ground-floor is a paradise for rats. One of the best ways to avoid an unpleasant surprise is to ask potential future neighbors about the ins and outs of the place they live--afterall, a broker won't always be the most candid source of building information. 

If you spot a tenant in the hallway (or have the guts to ring the doorbell), this is what you need to ask:

  1. What noises and smells do you deal with on a daily basis? Assuming that you can't visit an apartment at all hours, you may miss some sensory disturbances like weekday construction or your neighbor's Friday night smoking sesh. Get the scoop from someone who's lived there round-the-clock: these are the kinds of complaints people love to discuss.
  2. How comfortable do you feel in the neighborhood? You can always check the official city crime statistics, but to get a sense of whether a single woman can walk home late at night or the kids can roam around the block, just ask.
  3. How responsive is the building staff? Some supers move quickly to resolve problems, others are total duds. Ultimately, this may not prevent you from moving into a place, but negligent building staff can seriously affect your living experience. Also, best to ask a few residents if possible, since some people are pickier than others. 
  4. What's the landlord's track record on raising the rent? Brokers will usually tell you that any rent increases after your lease expires will be minimal, but neighbors can give you the real dirt. (Be sure to speak with market-rate tenants, as increases for rent-stabilized apartments are mandated by the city.)

For more tips, read the full story: "7 things to ask the neighbors before you move in."


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