• First impressions count, so dress appropriately and be polite
  • Arrive early to observe your surroundings and ask yourself if you can see yourself living there
  • Test your cellphone service while touring the building
  • Look closely to identify any potential problems
  • Take photos to compare apartments easily
  • Take notes since you'll be absorbing a lot of information

Check out our Apartment Search: Tips for Tours graphic.

It is important to read your lease before signing it. Leases are legally binding documents and breaking your lease can lead to legal and financial trouble. Knowing the terms you are agreeing to before you sign is the best way to protect yourself as a tenant. It is important to have your lease in writing and that your landlord provides you with a copy of the agreement. Make sure that the following items are in your lease:

  • Names and addresses of all parties involved
  • Rent and security deposit
  • Details related to security deposit (conditions of return, date of return, etc.)
  • Maintenance responsibilities and requests
  • Rules regarding subletting
  • Conditions for landlord entering your property
  • Conditions for lease termination
  • Restricted items/apartment rules (ex: marijuana policy, noise levels, pets.)

Read UCribb's guide to rental agreements (external link).

Office of the Tenant Advocate

The Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA), established in 2006, serves DC renters by providing access to legal information regarding rights as tenants.

Are you worried that your apartment is not up to code? Is there insufficient ventilation or is your building not turning on the air conditioning? The OTA can help you make sure that your living conditions are up to standard. Are you experiencing a sudden rent hike? The OTA can help you advocate for a fair rent. Not sure of your rights as a tenant? OTA lawyers are available to explain your rights and provide guidance.