Before You Rent: Essential Questions to Ask Before Renting a Property

Renting a property is a big decision. Not only is this where you will live, but you will be committing to live there for a specified amount of time. You cannot just leave if things aren’t what you thought they would be. Therefore, it is important that you never make any assumptions. There are some essential questions you must ask before signing a lease.

What are the basics to the rental property? There are things you need to ask to make sure the property will even work for you.

• Are there enough outlets to plug things in?

• Can you receive cell phone coverage? What about DSL/Broadband coverage?

• Which television services do you have access to?

• Is the apartment furnished or not? If unfurnished, will your furniture fit? Can you have a waterbed?

• Are pets allowed? If so, which ones?

• Is there enough storage and closet space?

• What appliances are there? Are they gas or electric? How old are they?

• Can you have a real Christmas tree?

• Where do you get your mail? Where are packages from UPS, Fed Ex, USPS, etc left if you are not at home?

• How thin are the walls?

• When can you move in?

• How long is the lease for? What happens at the end of the lease? Do you need to make any new payments? Will you need to resign a lease or will you go month to month? What is the needed move out notice?

Is the rental property safe? You do not want to move somewhere where your well being could be in jeopardy. More specifically, you need to ask:

• Are there locks on the windows? Do the doors have deadbolts? Have the locks been changed? Is there a peep hole in the door?

• Is the wiring in good condition?

• If there is a fireplace, when was the last time it was checked?

• Have the appliances, including the heating and cooling units, been safety-checked? Is there paperwork to prove this?

• Are there smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? Are they in working order? Is there a fire extinguisher present?

• In case of a fire, what are the escape routes?

• Is there a burglar alarm?

• Has the property ever been burglarized? What about neighboring properties? What is the general crime rate of the area?

How much does the property cost to rent? There is more to the cost of renting than just the monthly rent you pay. You need to ask the following:

• Are there any application fees that you need to pay prior to being approved to rent the property?

• How much is the security deposit? Is any of that automatically withheld on move out? If the security deposit is equal to more than three months rent, you might need to consider why.

• Do you need to provide first and last month’s rent before moving in? When is payment expected-on date of move in or at lease signing? If more than two months rent is required at move in, ask why. It is possible that the landlord is having money trouble and you can find yourself without a home.

• What day is the rent due on? Is that received by date or post-marked date? Are there any fees for paying rent late? If so, what?

• Are there any other deposits that you will need to pay, like a pet deposit? Is any of it refundable?

• Is parking included or is there an extra fee for parking?

• What if you need to break the lease? What are the penalties and fees? Is it possible to sublet or have roommates that are not on the lease?

• What utilities are included with the rent? How much are the average costs for any utilities you need to pay for?

• Are there any other maintenance issues that you are required to take care of? For example, is there any lawn care?

• How are repairs handled? Do you need to pay for them? Will you be reimbursed? How long will it take?

• Upon moving out, when can you expect any refunds?

Can you make any changes to the apartment? These include adding outlets, hanging pictures and shelves, and painting the walls. What are you expected to do on move out? Will you need to paint the walls back to the original color or fill the nail holes? If there is a lawn, can you change the landscaping? Never take for granted that you can do whatever you like to the rental property, especially if it comes furnished.

What is the neighborhood like? This is more than safety, but general questions for everyday living. Specifically, ask:

• How close is the nearest hospital? Drug store? Grocery store? Gas Station? Dry Cleaners? Post office? Or any other business you use regularly.

• What are the schools like?

• How close is the parking?

• When is trash pick-up?

• What are traffic patterns like? Are you close to an airport and will have a lot of overhead noise?

• Do streetlights shine into the windows?

By asking all the right questions before hand, you are sure not to be disappointed with your rental property and avoid an unpleasant surprises later. Do not feel rushed or by asking questions you are annoying anyone. If you can’t get the answers, it is best to move on to a different rental property?