“Home Sweet Home” – IRMA asks a pro when looking for a new home and moving in

My artwork for the catalogue and advertisement for this year’s Münchner Stofffrühling, where IRMA shows an insight of how she would like to live. The annual textile fair in Munich presents companies from all over the world with their latest textiles, prints and paint designs.

By Stephanie Fresle

The perfect ceiling height, the floor plan, nice neighbours and maybe a shared garden: Finding your perfect dream apartment to rent can be stressful, whether in the city or countryside. IRMA had a chat with First Living founder Stephanie Fresle, and they have compiled a checklist of the most important questions to help you keep a clear head when apartment hunting and moving.

All artwork for this feature have been produced exclusively by IRMA for DECO Magazine in cooperation with this year’s Münchner Stofffrühling. Visit the fair this weekend as you will be inspired by the most beautiful textiles and designs for your current or new home.

1. Location: “Love at first sight?”  

Have you taken a closer look at the apartment’s location?

Do you like the neighborhood and its infrastructure?

Transport: Can you get there and away easily?

Is the area around your apartment loud – or are there other nuisances?

How have the rents around your dream apartment developed to date – in the building itself and in the neighborhood? Check the local rent index!

Who is the landlord? It makes a big difference whether you are renting from a private owner (who may even live in the same building) or from a housing association …

2. The viewing: “Look deep into my eyes.”  

What condition is the apartment in?

Keep cool & stay warm: How energy efficient is the apartment (especially the windows!)?

Does the apartment include a parking space, cellar or attic? Are there common rooms and facilities?

Who lives above/below/beside you?

What kind of heating system does the apartment have? Gas, oil or district heating?

How much will the utility bills be –  and what do they include?

How is water consumption billed – jointly or with an individual water meter?

Is there a cable or satellite TV connection? Does the building get broadband Internet?

3. Document defects and damage: “Nobody’s perfect.” 

Remember to take a look under the couch and into dark corners – especially in old buildings. Did you note defects and damage in detail – mold, fungi or even asbestos?

If there are obvious defects or damage, document exactly who will rectify them and when!

4. Other things to note: “Last but not least …” 

Don’t want to play Bob the Builder? Are you planning to make modifications or extensions?

Fire safety: Smoke detectors are essential and mandatory in most regions – don’t forget them!

Cats and dogs: Is your landlord pet-friendly?

5. Security deposit: “Money makes the world go round …”

No cheating! Tell the truth when filling in your rental disclosure form – there’s no point in lying …

Think long and hard before taking out insurance as an alternative to a security deposit! It doesn’t make sense, as the insurance company keeps your deposit at the end of the insurance relationship – a high price to pay for a little liquidity …

Apply for salary statements and credit ratings in good time and submit them to your landlord on request.

Also watch out for any premium payments to the landlord – some landlords use them to recoup real estate agent costs.

The security deposit can be up to three net monthly rent payments excluding utilities – but no more!

6. The rent contract: Read the fine print!

Can you remember what the essential parts of a rent contract are? If not, consult a tenant’s association or compare your rent contract with model contracts.

What needs to be in the contract? Of course it has to contain an exact and detailed description of the premises, including the square footage, share of utilities and operating costs etc.

Are rent increases stipulated (e.g. graduated rent agreements)?

Watch out for limited-term rental contracts – they have special cancellation rules!

7. Handover: “Home alone.” 

Did the landlord promise to do cosmetic or other repairs before you move in? If so, make sure to note and document it in full detail!

Did you inspect the cellar and other common rooms and officially “accept” them?

Did you receive all keys for the apartment and were they each noted with their function in the handover report?

Were the meter readings (gas, water, electricity) recorded in the handover report and confirmed by both contract partners?

Did you check the appliances in the apartment – and remember to get copies of warranty documents, maintenance reports etc. (extremely important for water boilers or gas-fired water heaters in particular)?

Could be expensive: Your new home will probably mean updating your homeowner’s and possibly also your third party liability insurance!

Did both contract partners sign the handover report?

8. The First Living database of experts: “Yes, we can!” 

Are you looking for an expert, the best in the business? Then check out the roughly 400 experts in the firstliving.com database: Find professionals for kitchens, saunas, floor coverings, chimney building, wall design, security as well as removal or smart home experts.

9. The move: “On the verge of a nervous breakdown?”

Did you make a master plan for your move? It really helps – as do a list with all the things you are taking with you and preparing labelled packing cases for every room.

Start planning early – did you set up a forwarding order for your mail?

And did you inform the authorities (registration office, vehicle registration authority, tax authority) and update your service providers (banks, insurance companies, telephone, broadband etc.) with your new address?

Have you hired a removal company and agreed a fixed price?

What about insurance policies, cover and protection for your belongings, in case your hard-working helpers break anything?

If you or your friends are doing the hard work yourselves: have you checked up on your insurance cover?

Just in case: Did you pack a toolbox?

Have you hired a specialist company to transport your piano, safes or art collection?

10. Moving in: “Home Sweet Home”

When moving into an apartment: Did you measure the dimensions of the elevator, including the door width? Then you know who gets to carry the heavy, bulky furniture up and down the stairs …

Document any damage in the elevator/stairwell with the removal company before transporting furniture.

Diamonds are forever: Remembered to pack your jewelry and other valuables yourself and separately?

Did you inspect and document your old apartment/old house with your landlord – and note all meter readings?

I’m off: Emptied the mailbox and removed your name plates?

Don’t want to lose your data when moving? You don’t have to – back-up the hard drives of all computers and laptops.

Left empty-handed? No thanks! Pack a little “Survival Kit” – just in case the packing cases do not arrive, or don’t arrive on time.

Moving to a new city for a job? Collect all receipts for the moving costs, to deduct them from your taxes as professional expenses!

Let’s party: If you’ve made it this far without a nervous breakdown – don” forget the house-warming party!

IRMA travels the world, writes and illustrates the life she lives.

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