• Matt See

Super Checklist: Top 10 Questions to Ask a Potential Landlord

A lot of trust is required in renting a home both on the part of the landlord and on that of the renter’s. There are many things to be discussed to ensure both parties have a proper agreement. However, as a tenant, if you don’t ask enough questions (and the right ones), misunderstanding and problems may arise down the road. Even if you are 80% sure of the answers to some of your questions, you still need to ask to be totally confident in the answer. Here are questions to ask a potential landlord before signing the dotted lines.

1. What is the breakdown of the rent?

It’s common for renters to see the price of a rental and assume that covers everything. But, often the price is only for the rent and doesn’t cover other things like utilities, cable, internet, additional parking fees and so on. When discussing with the landlord, ensure you are aware of what the rent covers and what it doesn’t.

2. Are there any additional fees?

Make sure you are aware of any administrative or application fees before applying and committing to a unit. Also, depending on the kind of property you want, certain features may attract additional fees, such as HOA, trash, or other maintenance. These fees will determine if the rental is within your budget and if it’s worth investing in it.

3. What is the expected move-in date?

Some landlords put up a listing, hoping to fill it as soon as possible. When moves have a rush date, it could mean paying and moving in a few days. It can be stressful and frustrating to sign an agreement that has no flex-time. Ask the landlord about the date you can move in and if there is a flex time to put down a deposit to hold the rental and begin moving in weeks later.

4. What are acceptable payment methods?

You need to find out what type of payment your potential landlord accepts. Ask if they accept all methods like cash, checks, e-transfer, bank transfer, or if they prefer specific payment. Double-checking with them will help to avoid problems on your end later on.

5. Are inspections made regularly?

Delayed response time is one of the commonest complaints in renting. You don’t want to wait for weeks to have an issue fixed. So before signing an agreement, ask the landlord how often inspections are done. Organized landlords have property maintenance as a top priority. Also, enquire about their procedure for inspection. Will you be notified beforehand or they knock and enter your apartment at their convenience? This information will help you understand how the landlord runs the property.

6. Is the rental pet friendly?

If you own a pet, you need to find out if the landlord allows pets on the property. You can quickly determine if the property is for you or not when you know the rules and regulations regarding pets.

7. Is there a guest policy?

If you have an active social life and enjoy hosting parties, it is good to know what the property guest policies are. There may be rules with bringing guests over depending on the property you seek. Ask your landlord about policy in guests so that your long-lost noisy cousin coming for the week doesn’t lead to an eviction notice.

8. What are the rules for decorating the property?

Some landlords will not allow any permanent modification to their property. Find out what changes are permitted. Can you hang pictures, making changes like painting, or install home technologies to the wall. If you seek to personalize your space, ask what changes your potential landlord permits.

9. Do you have any improvements or renovations to be done?

You could save yourself headaches when you are aware of any changes that will be made to the building in the future. If there will be construction or renovations within the next few months that could impact the living situation of you and your family. It’s good to know as early as possible.

10. What is the timing of the lease?

Ask your potential landlord about timing of the lease as you discuss payment inclusions and method. Some rentals don’t have month-to-month payment, while some will ask for a few months in advance. If you plan to live in a place for up to a year before moving somewhere else, a rental with an advanced lease will not be a good fit for your schedule.

Lastly, the questions that matter to you.

No one knows your needs better than you. It's important to make sure that where you're living will satisfy you and make your life better!

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