Every potential renter needs to ask a few questions before they sign the lease. Not knowing the answers to these could become very costly, so make sure you not only get an answer, but make sure that the answer fully covers your concerns. Below are a few of those questions.
Are any of the utilities included?
Many people, especially those who have rented in the past may assume that at least the water, sewer, and trash are included. While it is common that they are, it is not safe to take for granted that they will always be. Be careful about thinking that it is only when you rent a house that the utilities are not included, it happens with apartments too, just not as often. With so many living on tighter budgets, this is something to take into consideration. Not only are many of us living on less, but cities and towns across the board have raised their rates for these services. Depending on how closely you have to manage your money, you could find yourself in a real pickle if you find out after the fact that these bills are your responsibility.
Do the appliances come with the rental?
This is an issue which I learned about the hard way. It was my first apartment, so in my defense I really did not know to ask about the appliances. As a result of not asking, I found myself living out of a cooler and with nothing to cook on other than a microwave for months. Appliances are a major expense for just about anyone, but those with limited budgets such as young people just starting out or those working low paying jobs need to make this question an absolute must. Also keep in mind that just because a rental might have hook ups for a washer and dryer, it doesn’t mean that they come included. Many apartment communities will have a coin-operated laundry room, but just as many do not. So, if you find yourself not able to afford purchasing a washer and dryer you have to consider how important it is to you that there is at least a laundry room on site. Otherwise you will find yourself going to a Laundromat every week.
Will the property be cleaned before move-in?
Here is another thing which I just assumed would be true, only to find out that it isn’t always. Of course if the property is already clean when you look at it, then there is no concern there. However if it is still dirty, do not automatically think that the landlord is going to do it before you move in. It is very disappointing to come to your new dwelling only to find a dirty stove, refrigerator, and bathroom. Most of the time this is not an issue but it certainly can be. If by some chance it isn’t going to be done, then you can decide if you want to take care of it or simply keep looking. If it is something you choose to do, ask the landlord to have a key so that you can clean it before moving your belongings in. Of course there are usually little things to do in any place you move into, but major cleaning could present an unpleasant surprise.
Is parking available?
Lack of adequate parking can present major problems. Pay attention to this as you are looking at the property and ask questions. If there is a parking lot, find out if parking is assigned or if it is first come first serve. Also find out if there are any limits as to how many vehicles that a tenant can have to make sure that will not be an issue. If there is no parking lot and the parking is on street, then you need to know how crowded it becomes. When you find a property that you are interested in, it would be a good idea to drive by it at different times of day to see what the situation looks like.
Who is responsible for lawn care?
Lawn maintenance is another one of those things which could get very expensive and also time consuming depending on the size of the property. When renting a house, it could go either way but is usually the renter’s responsibility to take care of the yard. Unless you already have all the necessary equipment it can get very expensive to buy a mower and a trimmer, not to mention the gasoline and containers to keep it in. Depending on the size of the yard it could also take a lot of time to maintain properly. Do not assume that you can simply do what you want with it just because you rent it. If you fail to maintain the yard, it could result in the landlord getting a fine from the city and as a result you getting evicted. In apartment communities it usually isn’t a concern, but there is one small area for which you might be responsible. If there is any landscaping right by your unit, such as a flowerbed or small grassy area which is away from the sidewalk the management may require you to take care of that. It isn’t much, but there are some people who do not wish to have any outdoor maintenance as their responsibility.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when renting an apartment or house. Asking the right questions can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road. Most places require a one year lease and if you do not have all your facts straight about the place before you sign it, you will be stuck in an unhappy situation for quite a while. While there might be the occasional landlord who may cut you some slack if you make a mistake, this is definitely not something you should expect. That’s why it is important to do the proper investigation and planning before you sign anything.