Edited questions from Apartment Life, Sara Gebhardt's online discussion about rental issues.
QWashington: What do you think is a reasonable time to ask people in an apartment building to stop hammering? Someone in my building has been hammering weeknights until after 10:30 and sometimes during the day for several hours at a time. It's really annoying.
AGenerally, reasonable (and these hours are sometimes spelled out by different jurisdictions) is considered 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. Have you asked the hammerer to keep it down?
Madison, Wis.: I'm feeling pressure to buy but, 1) I really like renting and 2) I can't afford a nice place in this town. Is it so wrong to rent until I die?
It is entirely your decision whether you rent forever. Especially if you really like renting, you should not feel pressure to buy a place until you want to buy a place.
Baltimore: My upstairs neighbors went away for a few days. We knew this because they neglected to turn off their alarm clock, and it woke us up two days in a row at an ungodly hour. I know this wasn't done on purpose, but it pretty much ruined the weekend.
I left them a note about the problem because I had no other recourse -- no building supervisors were around on the weekend, and it wasn't an emergency, although it was frustrating. Now I feel awkward about the whole situation. If it were the other way around, I would have apologized to them, and we would have laughed about it and life would go on. Now I'm not sure what to say. Please, before going away, make sure those alarms are off!
This happens often. And you can certainly apologize for the note, if you would like, and make nice with your neighbors. I'm sure they feel badly about the situation too. Just broach the subject gently by making a joking comment about how loud their alarm clock is and it made you very productive over the weekend. They'll remember next time (we hope) even if you are nice about your response to their alarm.
Washington: I am moving to a new city in about two months and don't have a job lined up. In case nothing comes up before then, I would like to know if landlords are generally accepting of people who are looking for jobs but need an apartment while they look.
Landlords typically want to know if you can pay your rent. So in lieu of having steady employment, you may need to get a co-signer or prove that you have enough savings to cover the lease term.
Sara Gebhardt's Apartment Life column appears biweekly in this section, and her Web chat appears monthly on www.washingtonpost.com.