5 Questions to Ask the Landlord Before Renting a Home or Apartment
According to the Post Chronicle, nearly a third of Americans rent their home, and most people rent a home or apartment at some point in their life. Finding that home or apartment that is right for you can be a challenging task with such a large rental market. Doing research on the area you want to move to and making a list of priorities of what you want in a rental can make your search a little easier. Knowing what questions to ask your potential landlord is also very helpful. From my experience gained in 15 years of renting, the following 5 questions can save you a lot of time, money, and disappointment.
- What utilities will I pay? What’s included in the rent?
Some rental properties include some or all of the utilities in the rent, and other you will have to pay all the utilities yourself. Make sure it is clearly stated which utilities you will be responsible for, and what is included in your rent. Electricity, natural gas, water, sewage, trash, cable and internet service are some of the most common utilities you may have to pay. There may also be recycling fees, complex fees (such as “clubhouse fees,” usually in luxury complex apartments), pet rent or fees, or countless others. Be sure to add all the utilities and fees to your rent when you are considering your budget.
- Who does the maintenance?
Who will do the maintenance for your rental largely depends on whom you are renting from. Apartment complexes often have on-call maintenance staff that take care of routine maintenance calls and emergencies. Single-family homes and smaller apartment buildings can vary, from the landlord also being the handyman to hiring a maintenance service. Make sure your potential landlord is clear about who to call for routine maintenance issues, how quickly they will fixed, and who to call for any maintenance emergencies.
- When were the last renovations/improvements done?
Knowing when the last renovations and improvements were done to the rental property will give you a good idea of your potential landlord’s character. If the rental is run down and needs a lot of minor repairs, chances are the landlord cares more about making money than providing a quality living environment for their tenants. It’s also a warning sign that there may be major issues hidden under the surface of the rental that you may not notice for a couple of months. A good landlord will make sure the rental is clean and everything is functioning before they show it, and will also understand that improvements to the property increase the value and the satisfaction of potential tenants. That doesn’t mean every rental should be newly renovated with latest appliances and newest trend of fixtures, but a kitchen with 1960’s appliances and a warped Formica counter top should be a warning. Condos like the Landmark condo will help you get the right deal of unit for your property. When investing in any property, it is advisable to be careful and keen. Make sure to consider all the relevant factors such as location, facilities, amenities and others.
- What is the term of the lease? What is penalty for early termination of the lease?
The standard term of a rental lease is usually 12 months, but some landlords do offer 6 month leases or other terms for tenants if needed. Even if you plan on staying for at least 12 months make sure you understand the penalties for early termination of the lease. Penalties can vary from loss of security deposit to a monetary penalty of two months rent or more. It can even be possible for the landlord to sue the tenant for the amount of rent that would have been owed if the lease were carried out for the full 12 months. Knowing what penalties you will be responsible for will help you make the best decision if faced with a situation where you may have to break your lease.
- What are the policies for lawn care/parking/pets/smoking/other situation that applies to you?
Take out that list of priorities you made before you began searching for a rental property and evaluate what needs you will need this property to meet. Do you need a parking spot for your car? If so, do you have a dedicated parking area or will you have share with neighbors? Do you have pets? If you do, will you have to pay an extra security deposit or extra rent every month? Do you smoke, and does your rental allow smoking inside? Do you have cut the grass or do yard maintenance or is that covered by the landlord?
Making sure all of your loose ends are covered before selecting your next home can make the difference between a happy, healthy place to live, or being trapped in home you hate for the next year of your life. Take the time to talk to your potential new landlord and be sure to ask any questions that you think are important. Make sure that all the terms are clearly written out in the lease to protect yourself and your wallet. Most importantly, find a place that you feel you and your family can be happy living in.
Jesse Waters is head content writer and article at God Men. He found out about his love for writing when he was struggling with cancer. His works are very sensitive and he writes with his heart.