5 Questions to Ask Before You Rent a House

After going through an unexpected divorce and moving from one state to another, I found myself looking at rental properties. I had no idea how to rent a house or what questions I should ask before renting a property for myself and my two children. I was lucky to find a great landlord with a small house for rent that fit my family perfectly.

Today, I know exactly what needs to be asked before you rent a house. If you are in the market to rent a house yourself, make sure to ask all five of these questions before even filling out the rental application. They will help you learn how to rent a house without running into costly problems down the road.

1. What are the rules for making changes to the rental property?

All landlords offering a house for rent will have guidelines on painting and other modifications to the home. If you violate these guidelines you probably won’t get your deposit back when you decide to move out.

If you want to rent a house and the landlord says absolutely no changes can be made to the property, it may not be the rental property for you.

2. Is there the option to rent to buy in the future?

Rent to buy opportunities are a great way to secure a permanent house for your family even if you don’t have great credit or can’t afford a big down payment for a home. Some landlords with rented properties will allow tenants to enter a rent to buy agreement, but you may have to request it.

Just be aware that a rent to buy agreement is different from signing a regular lease to rent a house. Make sure to get the rent to buy agreement in writing through a separate legal agreement before you rent the house.

3. Are pets allowed in the rental property? Is there a pet deposit required?

Most landlords with a house for rent will require you to pay a deposit if you want to have pets inside the home. Sometimes pets are not allowed inside a rental property at all. Read the lease thoroughly on this matter but still ask outright if you can have pets and if specific types of pets are not allowed in the rental property.

4. What maintenance duties are you responsible for in the rental property?

This is extremely important to ask before you rent a house. You will be responsible for mowing the grass and other basic maintenance for most rental properties, but in some cases your rent may include some of these duties. Make sure that the landlord will cover water heaters and other components of the rental property that may break down over time.

5. Have there been issues or problems with any neighbors that you should know about?

This is something I really wish I had known to ask when I rented my first house. When you rent a house you should know something about the neighborhood, including any problems that may exist between the landlord and the surrounding community. You may also want to knock on the neighbor’s door and introduce yourself before deciding to rent a house.