Do you know what questions to ask before renting a property? You would probably remember to ask about the rental amount and about a refundable security deposit, but it needs to go deeper than that. The prospective landlord doesn’t know your particular situation, and so can’t supply the info needed unless you ask. To that end, here are a few more questions to bring up before signing on the dotted line for a rental.
1. Is there an application fee? Is it refundable?
You’ve figured out if you can afford the monthly rent and the security deposit, but did you know that many rentals charge an application fee? Fees vary by location and are not usually refundable … except for a possible window in which the fee may be refunded if the applicant withdraws the application in time. Finding out about the application fee and the time frame allowed for a refund is high on the list of top 5 questions to ask before renting a property.
2. Are utilities included, and if so, which ones?
Nothing’s worse than moving into your new premises to find out a month later that you are expected to pay the utilities. And you just spent your last twenty bucks on pizza and a movie. Utilities may include but are not necessarily limited to city utilities, water, electricity, garbage pickup and sewer. You should also ask about heating bills, which could be oil, propane, coal, natural gas, or even a wood-burning stove. In the event of a wood-burning stove there may not be any heating bills, but then again, lucky you … you’ll have to split and stack firewood.
3. Are pets allowed?
If you assume the property owner allows pets, you’re in for a big shock … and possibly an eviction. Be sure to ask about both indoor and outdoor pets, as some will not allow indoor animals but will allow outdoor ones. If you plan on raising livestock, (chickens, cows, horses, or even Tasmanian devils) be sure to ask about that. Some cities and towns have regulations about livestock within the city limits.
If you have a pet that you don’t want to give up, ask if the landlord would consider a pet deposit or a small increase in rent to cover his added risk.
4. Who is responsible for yard upkeep?
If you’re moving into a modern apartment, this might not be a problem. However, if you’re renting a condo, there may be a homeowner’s association fee you’ll have to pay to cover lawn care. If you’re renting a house, you can almost bet that you will be responsible for mowing the green stuff. Find out if the property owner supplies the lawnmower or if you do. This is another important one to ask before you sign for the rental.
5. How much notification is required on important issues?
In the excitement of finding the perfect rental and moving in, you might not be thinking about moving out. You’ll need to give notice before you move out, and the amount of time required varies by landlord. You’ll also want to ask how much notice he’ll give before entering the premises, as well as before a rent increase.
A few other things to consider.
Are appliances included? Is there off-road parking? How about storage space? Is a copy of your credit score required with the application? If it’s necessary to move before the contract is up, what about subletting? All of these are just a few more items to consider.
You’ll think of questions of your own, as well, but this list of the top 5 questions to ask before renting a property should put you well on your way to making a knowledgeable decision about your new home, sweet home.
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Personal experience as a landlord, in addition to many years of experience as a renter.