There are many things you should look into before renting a property. Some can vary between state and state, but there are 5 things that you should always ask your landlord about before signing that lease and committing yourself to the rental of a property. From experience as a renter and from a family in the apartment business, there are several things that I have found to be helpful to inquire about before renting a property. Most of these are basic, but can be things that some renters forget to check before renting, and find themselves in a bit of a pickle later.
Depending on the property, different landlords require different payment and ownership methods for the various utilities that are used on a rental property. Quite often, the tenant can be responsible for water, trash, electric, and gas if it applies to the type of real estate being rented. This is especially seen for those renting apartments and/or houses. In addition to this, there may be different ways of paying for these utilities required by the landlord. A great example of this came from an apartment that I had rented. Instead of paying the water company for the bill, the landlord would pay for the water from a master account and an individualized bill would be sent to our apartment and that amount would be added on to the rent every month. If we had paid the utility bill directly we might have had a problem. Finding out about your utility responsibilities and how much you could be potentially paying a month is very important when considering a property and its costs.
Most people know that when you sign a lease, it is usually for a certain amount of time (IE 6 months, 1 year, etc.). But what a lot of people don’t know is what happens if you decide to leave that property early. This is usually spelled out in the lease, but sometimes it is easily skipped over when reading through the rest of the property information. This can have high penalties. Some real estate owners can exact a high price for ducking out of a lease early. Failure to pay these fees can impact your credit negatively. And most landlords will not work out a negotiation to change from their original lease agreement. For instance, I remember living at a certain complex for almost three years. I was moving with only one month left to my lease, and money was tight, but they would not negotiate letting me leave early; thus I paid one more months rent without living there. And other locations might have tougher requirements, such as terminating a lease early with only payment of 2 or more months rent in advance making it just easier to pay the rest of the lease. If you don’t know how long you’ll be able to stay at a property it is best to find out what the early termination requirements are beforehand.
This is something that a lot of people don’t tend to think about or try to avoid, after all, isn’t there enough insurance out there to worry about? But some landlords require it (and even if they don’t its best to have it a lot of times). In regards to Renter’s Insurance, a renter should ask when the real estate was built, if there are wood stoves in any of the units, Depending on your state or area there could be other provisions for flood areas and other weather related information. These are great questions to clear with your landlord before contacting your insurance agency for a quote.
Move Out Fees
When my family rents an apartment, they provide a list of charges that tells upon move out, what a tenant would be charged for if they leave a property a certain way. And many other landlords will do this in addition to the list tenants fill out on what is damaged in the property before they move in. This can include things from light bulbs, to the amount of paint needed to cover blotches on the wall, to new drip pans for your stove. Some places are really lenient and don’t charge for anything after a time, and some will charge you for every single thing that is wrong with the property no matter how long you’ve lived there. Obtaining a list like this will allow you to judge how harsh the property is and whether they are fair in these aspects. If it is found that they charge down to the minute on cleaning time upon moving out, it may be better to check out other places if you are not sure you can handle these expenses when moving out.
When I’m renting a property, nothing is more important to me than the policy on pet ownership. There are many places out there that don’t allow any animals on the property (aside from maybe a fish tank). As an animal lover with many furry friends, it would be impossible for me to ever rent a property like that. But even those that do allow animals can have different rules. There may be breed restrictions, animal limit, and even size limits. I’ve come across places that don’t allow any animals over 40 lbs. There are some properties that allow cats and not dogs and vice versa. Once you navigate through these confusing restrictions, there may be other rules for pets such as where dogs can be walked within the property. And most places have an extra pet deposit and pet rent added on to regular deposits and rent. These figures can be as low as a small pet deposit, to as high as a large pet deposit plus $25 or more per pet pet rent a month. This can add up so its important to know these figures beforehand and also know if you and your pet are welcome on the rental real estate.
Don’t let all these questions scare you away from renting a property. It is economical and good for certain stages of life to rent instead of buy. And a good portion of landlords out there are fair in their rental policies. But these questions and their answers do make a difference for a lot of people when searching for a place. Just make sure to read your lease in full, ask these pertinent questions, and decide what is best for you.