Are you new to living on your own?
Renting and leasing an apartment or home can be very intimidating, but don’t fret– here are some questions to ask your potential landlord BEFORE you sign that paperwork that will not only make you sound like you know what you’re doing but give you the confidence you need to take that step into your future .You can never ask too many questions. According to Utopia Management, a premiere property management company in California, renters who ask plenty of questions up front establish an expectation of clear communication and respectbetween both parties from the beginning.
After all, this is your life, you want to make sure that you will have a good experience living on this property. These 10 questions will ensure that you are not going to encounter any unfortunate surprises after moving in.
Open Ended Questions
The more you can get the landlord to talk about the property, the more you can read between the lines about their attitude and attributes of their business. This will also take some pressure off you, gives you some space to breathe, and watch their body language.
Can you clarify the cost of rent, and what is included in that price?
Make sure that you are getting the most relevant and accurate price and address any discrepancies if the price you saw advertised differs from their in-person quote. Ask if furnishings and appliances are included.
Often your monthly rent will exclude utilities such as electric, water, and gas if there is a gas stove. Ask on average what utilities will cost you. This is important to factor into your budget and ensure you can truly afford to rent here.
Are there any deposits, non-refundable or late fees?
While it is common for respectable landlords to take a deposit of one month’s rent in case there is any damage inflicted on the property during your lease, some states have laws in place prohibiting these deposits from being non-refundable.
Most landlords will ask rent to be payed within 2-3 days of the first of the month, but the leniency of the landlord is up to them. Ask how long you have after a payment date before you encounter a late fee, as well as the cost of the fee. If they say something vague, it may be best to avoid renting from them.
What is your ideal lease duration, and how soon are you looking to fill the unit?
Have in mind how long you would like to sign a lease for, and a move in date. If they would like you to sign a two-year lease but you only want one year, you may need to walk away.
Similarly, they may be looking to start the lease in May, but you need to move in June. Do not allow this to intimidate you. You will find a place that will accommodate your needs.
What is your tenant application and screening process?
Encourage landlords to thoroughly explain the entire process, including application fees or credit reports. If they are vague about the credit report being a hard or soft inquiry, it may hurt your credit to apply. This will help you set your own expectations and decide if you would like to follow through and apply.
What are they payment method options for rent?
It should be easy, convenient, and secure for you and your landlord to pay your bill every month, this means online payments, or checks if you are not tech savvy. If they mention cash payments, you should avoid renting from them at all costs.
How much interest have you had in this unit?
This question gives you an idea of why people are interested or why they are not. One issue may be the inflation of price, or lack of pictures in a listing. If they get nervous or begin gushing about how many people are interested, this can be a red flag of dishonesty and an untrustworthy and a sign you should not rent from them.
What is your subletting or lease termination policy?
As everything in life is uncertain, it is common to allow tenants to sublet or have someone else take over your rent. It is important to know what is required for this process, such as a sublet screening process which the landlord may deny unqualified applicants in the same way they have the authority to deny tenant applications.
If they do not allow subletting, they may charge a fee for early lease termination. Acceptable fees are a few months’ rent, but not anymore, you should not be responsible to pay rent until they can find a new tenant. You should always have the option to break the lease. If they do not allow this under any circumstances, you may want to reevaluate who you are looking to rent from.
What is the parking policy for this property?
If you own a vehicle it is important to ensure you have a reliable place to park. The landlord should be able to describe the process of getting a parking permit if that is required, as well as provide sufficient spaces for housemates’ vehicles.
How do I submit maintenance requests?
There should be a clear procedure for you to request repairs and get a response in a timely manner. Any hesitation or vagueness may indicate neglect or bad upkeep habits on their end.
Would you live here?
This may be the most important question!
Watch their reaction. If they are enthusiastic, you have found a great place! If they turn away or simply say no, there may be hidden issues they would rather not disclose. It is better to get to the bottom of those issues before you move in.