5 Drawbacks of Renting a Basement Apartment

Think twice before you sign a lease on a basement apartment.

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If you’re looking to rent an apartment, you have different options to choose from. You can find an opening in a large residential building, or you can rent out space in somebody’s home. The latter might save you some money, especially if you’re willing to rent a basement apartment.

There are certain benefits to renting a basement, like the potential to save money on rent, or to have more privacy, since many basements have smaller windows that passers-by can’t easily look into. On the other hand, there are a number of drawbacks to renting a basement that you should be aware of. 

1. A lack of natural light

The fact that basements are located underground means they don’t tend to get a whole lot of light. That may not bother you, but if you work from home or spend a lot of time at home, it could become an issue over time. 

2. More noise

When you rent out a basement, it means you’re signing up to hear the sounds and stomps of people walking above you. Granted, this is a function of living in any setting where you reside below someone else, but when you're dealing with a basement, you may not have the same insulation between floors that you would between two main levels. As such, it can get very, very loud. And that can get very, very aggravating. 

3. Unwanted visitors

Undesirable critters like rodents and bugs tend to find their way into basements more easily than main-level floors, since they can simply crawl in from underground. And while you can mitigate that risk by having your landlord seal up holes and put out traps, you may need to prepare for the possibility that you’ll wind up with an extra roommate or two on occasion. 

4. The ever-present flood risk

In the event of heavy rains or storms, the basement is the one area of a home that’s likely to flood. And that’s bad news when it’s also your home. If you’re going to rent a basement, verify that the property in question isn’t located in a known flood zone. Also, make sure you get a solid renters insurance policy so that if your belongings do get damaged, you won’t suffer undue financial losses.

5. Cold winters

Because basements are underground, they tend to stay cold naturally. That’s a good thing during the heart of summer, but a potentially bad thing during the winter, especially if the apartment you wind up renting has poor or inadequate insulation. Now, some basements do have their own heating systems, so you may luck out, but be sure to ask that question before signing a lease, especially if you live in an area of the country where it’s cold from November through April. Oh, and don’t even think about compensating with space heaters; they’re not only somewhat hazardous, but extremely inefficient from a cost perspective. 

If you’re going to sign a lease for a basement apartment, make sure the space conforms to rental regulations in your area. For example, in some places, basement ceilings must be of a certain height to be legitimate rentals. Basements also need to have a certain number of windows and entry/exit points. Depending on where you live, the list of requirements can be rather long, but that’s a good thing, because it protects you as a renter. 

If you’re unsure whether you should rent a basement apartment, weigh the potential cost savings against the possible drawbacks you’ll face. If you’re willing to put up with those negatives for the duration of your lease, go for it. Otherwise, it might make sense to pay a little extra for a standard apartment that’s fully above ground. 

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