When you're in the market for a property to rent, whether it's an apartment or a larger home, you'll want to do as much research as you can before you make your final decision. After all, you could be signing a lease that means you'll be there for a year or more, so you want to make sure you find the right place.

In addition to using online resources and working with a qualified real estate agent, you'll also want to scope out the neighborhood and even talk to the neighbors about what it's like to live there before you decide if the place is right for you. Here are some of the basics of talking to the neighbors when looking for properties for rent.

Reasons to talk to the neighbors

If they rent from the same landlord, which may be the case with an apartment or a duplex, neighbors can give you the inside scoop on what you can expect after you've signed a lease with that particular landlord. For example, the neighbors can tell you whether the landlord stays on top of maintenance work and keeps the property in great shape.

Even if they're not renting from the same landlord, the neighbors can give you details about life in that particular neighborhood, such as whether they think it's a good part of town, how convenient it is to get to different places at certain times of day, and other highly location-specific information that can help you.

What to ask the neighbors

You may wonder what kinds of questions to ask when you're chatting with the neighbors. Some of the questions that could help you get the information you need include things like:

  • Are there any sources of loud noise in the neighborhood (such as train tracks or construction projects)?
  • How often does the landlord send someone out for property maintenance?
  • How long does the landlord take to deal with things like AC problems?
  • What is the traffic like during commute times?
  • Do you enjoy living here and why?

You can tailor these questions to your specific circumstances and needs, too. 

Special considerations

Remember, if you do rent the place and move in, you'll be living near these people for a while. So try to make a good first impression and develop rapport as you chat. And be considerate as well; if the neighbor doesn't want to talk, for example, you can try coming at a more convenient time or talking to a different neighbor instead.

As you can see, talking to the neighbors before you sign a lease can be a productive information-gathering activity. It can help you get a fuller, more rounded picture of what living there would be like. Talk to your real estate agent about how you can find opportunities to have these kinds of conversations and ask your questions without being a nuisance.