Questions to Ask Your Potential Landlord: 5 Things You Shoudl Always Ask

As a veteran renter, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about renting apartments and houses. However, every year I learn something new or realize something I should have asked prior to renting the property. This article should help to prevent you from making some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years.

The Basics of Renting

Of course, there are always the basic questions that you should ask irregardless of what type of property (home, condo, apartment,) you are renting. For example, how much is the monthly rent? What is the security deposit? If you have pets, be sure to ask if pets are allowed and whether or not any additional monthly fees will apply or a pet security deposit. Are utilities included? Is there an application fee?

5. Is there an early termination fee?

I learned this one the hard well. I fell on hard times between paying for school, my half of the rent and of course, my roommate’s half of, well, everything. We terminated our lease earlier and were bombarded with fees: a lease termination fee, a monthly fee that applied until our apartment was re-rented out and legal fees for my when roommate yet again, did not pay for half of these fees.

4. Are you allowed to decorate?

As a writer who specializes in interior design, decorating is a big part of my life. This is another mistake I learned the hard way: I signed the lease and was then told immediately afterward that I was not allowed to paint or hang pictures using nails or screws. The moral of the story: always ask if you can hang art work or paint the walls, especially if this is important to you. Of course, you could always take my route and do it all anyway, then fill the holes and repaint back to the original color. (And no, my landlord never found out.)

3. Will window coverings be provided?

In some apartments, this is a given: blinds are often included. However, if you’re renting someone’s private home, condo or other dwelling, window coverings might not be included. This is important to know, lest you have to walk around for a few weeks with no window coverings until you can afford to purchase them. I too, have failed to ask this, only to find out I needed to spend money buying curtains, drapery and the like for the entire residence.

2. What are the neighbors like?

Unfortunately, this is one of those questions where the landlord will likely lie. I cannot count the number of times I’ve moved into an apartment and was made immediately aware of a rude or careless neighbor. Even worse, each time I was told by the landlord that “noise issues would be taken care of.” Be sure to ask about the neighbors, and what will be done if your neighbors are rude, unruly or just plain loud. Ask for proof of prior reprimands (such as eviction or otherwise,) as a show of good faith that your privacy and mental health will be taken seriously.

1. Why is this property being rented out?

Though this generally does not apply to apartments, there are some homeowners to attempt to rent out their home to try to cover the mortgage, especially if they have fallen on hard times recently or are behind on payments. This is important, as a lender will not care that you have a legal agreement to rent the property. They’ll kick you out, period. If you’re unsure or the situation seems fishy, consider running a background check on your landlord. This will help to tell you if the home is in foreclosure or if some other issue exists.