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A renter’s guide to choosing internet and TV service

Virginia Brown
Virginia Brown

Aug 14, 2019 — 3 min read

Like water, cable and internet have become essential utilities that are often rolled into the cost of the rent. Here are a few things to consider before opting in.

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From state-of-the-art fitness centers to off-leash dog parks and even breweries, added amenities can give an apartment complex a major competitive edge. According to the National Apartment Association, cable TV ranks in the top 10 of the most highly sought-after amenities. It’s right up there with in-unit washer/dryers and hardwood floors!

Many apartments even come pre-wired for cable and internet. But there are some pros and cons. Before you sign up, here is our renter’s guide with a few things to keep in mind.

Consider your need for speed

Internet speed is based on the number of data bits per second (bps) that travel from your device to the internet and vice versa. When considering opting into your apartment’s service, first take time to think through what you use the internet for, and ask about the speed available.

Do you check work email at night and browse the internet? Stream lots of videos? Do you have multiple devices you’d like to use simultaneously? All of these things factor in when determining the speed you need. Further, according to the NAA, if you go over what’s included in your apartment’s service, consider the potential cost difference as compared with other providers.

Pro tip: Check with current residents to see if they’re happy with the service at key times of the day. For the average tenant, provided bandwidth likely suffices, but not always. If you’d prefer having ultimate control over your provider, speeds and price, consider your own option, if you can.

Avoid potential roadblocks

If you determine you don’t want to go with your apartment’s provider, check with the complex to make sure they allow you to add your own lines. If you are allowed to subscribe to a different internet service provider, remember that you will end up paying twice if the service is included in your rent. In other words, if they’re going to charge you for the service anyway, and what is offered will do, consider going with the provided plan.

If you are able to opt into your own service, call our experts to find out what providers are available for your particular ZIP code. You may uncover a world of options for service at your building.

Weigh your financial — and time — savings

If the complex is a new construction, installation of fiber-optic internet and other wiring may be included in the contract at little to no cost to the owner, according to Stephanie Anderson with the NAA. Residents, then, receive special pricing through that provider and are encouraged to join by the leasing staff.

But what are some of the questions you should ask first? If rent is paid on time, but the cable portion is late, are there fees? Are there upfront fees (deposits, etc.) that are based on credit or other financial factors?

Anderson said what’s becoming even more popular than including cable is complexes that sign exclusive contracts with cable providers.

The good news: If the complex offers these services, you often won’t have to waste time researching, calling and setting up appointments with the provider. The apartment will do it for you. Further, according to Anderson, properties often designate representatives to handle resident set-up, questions, transfers and equipment returns. It’s time-saving, no-hassle customer service.

Anderson advised, though, that not all apartments will deliver results in the same way. “We are in the business of managing apartments,” she said, “not cable.”

Think through the length of your stay

How long will you be in this apartment? If you plan to move in a year, and the apartment calls for a two-year contract, consider that before you sign anything. Premature cancellation could produce unforeseen fees and you might be on the hook for another full year of payments if you end up moving.

Want to go beyond our renter’s guide and find out more about available internet and TV providers in your area? Chat with our experts or search our resource center to find additional information to help you in your search.