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Most people will have to rent a house sometime in their lives. There are details about homes that every tenant deserves to know, but the landlord or property manager doesn’t readily provide.
To get access to those pieces of information, you must ask questions. The responses you get will decide if the house is a good fit for you or if you have to keep looking.
As it can be tasking to come up with questions on your own, here are 11 practical questions to ask the landlord, realtor, or property manager before signing the rental agreement for your next house.
11 Questions to Ask Before Renting a House
Here is a list of questions every potential tenant should consider asking the property manager, landlords, or realtors before penning down the rental agreement.
1- How long does the renting contract last?
While the one-year leasing contract is the general industry standard, some landlords don’t provide the option.
Depending on the plans for the house, you may only be able to get a monthly contract or even a 6-month contract.
To confirm that your plans sync with reality, this question should be one of the first questions you should ask a landlord before renting a house.
If you’re looking to get a one-year contract, and the landlord only offers monthly contracts with no renewal guarantees, you may want to withdraw.
Generally, private landlords tend to be more flexible than companies about rental contracts.
2- Can I carry out minor renovations like painting the walls, etc.?
If you like a specific design to your apartments, you may want a house that lets you make minor changes to the structure or design.
It’s not always safe to assume that painting the walls or changing stuff in the bathroom is okay. Ask the landlord or property manager about their take on these before attempting to carry them out.
An even more realistic question is asking what kind of design changes you’re allowed to make. When taking a walk around the house with the realtor or landlord, you can note the changes you’ll like to make and ask if you can make them.
You can use this list to decide if the permitted cosmetic overhaul is okay for you. Otherwise, you may need to find another housing offer.
3- What’s the pet policy?
Not every rental apartment allows tenants to move in with their six overweight dogs. If you keep pets, the property manager may have some pet-specific policies that apply to tenants.
During the first meeting with the landlord or realtor, it’s crucial to ask if pets are allowed. If they are, express willingness to learn about all the policies relating to pets and their owners.
Some landlords charge a fee for keeping pets. Ask if this fee exists in the house, and ask if it’s a monthly charge or a one-off fee.
Also, you may want to learn what kind of pets are allowed, down to the breeds. If there are restrictions related to the pets’ weight or count, you also need to know about them.
Remember, your housing decision should favor both you and your pet(s), as you’ll be living in there together anyway.
4- How can I submit a maintenance/repair request?
Before signing the rental agreement, you should verify that you’re on the same page with your landlord concerning property repairs.
Mostly, the landlord should agree to repair broken appliances, electrical appliances failure, roof leaks, and similar faults. How proactive the landlord will be at effecting this agreement is another story.
It’s crucial to ask the landlord or realtor how you can contact them for repairs when necessary. Some landlords will let you repair minor faults yourself, making it up from the rent payment.
Also, you should know who is responsible for regular maintenance like yard work. You can also ask the landlord for the typical delay for a repair request. You don’t want to wait for weeks without electricity.
5- Do you allow subletting or having roommates?
If you’re planning to stay in the house with a roommate, you want to confirm that the lease contract allows it.
Most landlords don’t allow subletting, but some subletting policies are so strict that you can’t even stay with a roommate or receive guests for extended periods.
If you see a future possibility of having a roommate, you should inquire about the possibility of that. The landlord may demand that the roommate signs a separate contract, or you can handle everything.
If you don’t see the possibilities of ever having a roommate in your apartment, this question doesn’t matter.
6- Do you have any guest reception policies?
Similar to policies on subletting or having roommates, some landlords are also quite strict on guest reception. Before finalizing the rental agreement, you should verify how the policies are specific to guest reception.
Some landlords won’t let you have more than a specified number of guests to avoid the occurrence of rowdy parties.
Always give realistic expectations of how many guests you will be having down the line and how long they will be staying. This factor is crucial and could decide if you should rent the apartment.
7- What payment methods do you accept?
Always ask for the accepted payment methods before the fact, and get a signed receipt after making every payment.
While some landlords accept newer payment methods like PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, others still prefer the good old written checks or bank transfers.
Working with landlords that accept digital payments is best for a better and faster experience, and it’s best to avoid cash-only landlords.
If you don’t have a bank account and your landlord doesn’t accept digital payments, nothing else matters; the house isn’t for you.
8- Can I terminate my lease contract early; what are the applicable fees?
The average rental contract comes with the option of early termination but still varies between landlords. In some rare cases, there might be no way to cancel your contract halfway through.
Even if your realtor or landlord agrees to early lease termination, you should learn about the conditions and the applicable fees for the cancelation.
The fees vary depending on the location and the realtor. While you may have to pay three months’ rent for terminating the lease earlier than the contract specified, other landlords could have you pay for every month the house stays without a tenant.
9- Can I renew the contract after expiry?
Some landlords have other intended uses for their house after you move out. They’re just willing to let it out until they’re ready to put it to use.
However, you may be looking for a house to stay in for the long term. You cannot work with a landlord that’s only willing to rent out their home for a year.
That’s why it’s crucial to ask if the landlord is willing to renew the contract after it expires, especially if it’s is less than a year.
Depending on how long you want to stay, you may also know how long the landlord will be willing to renew the contract after expiry.
10- Were there any crime occurrences in the neighborhood?
While the cosmetics of the house are crucial, safety around the neighborhood is also vital. Before renting a home, you should ask the landlord about recent crime occurrences.
Ask for any recent break-ins in and around the house and how the response has been. Look up the area in a crime map to see how frequently crimes occur around the neighborhood.
Ask about the details of past break-ins. How was the response, and how fast did the repairs go if anything was affected?
If the area doesn’t appear safe, run.
11- When can I move into the house?
Once every agreement is finalized, you should also know when to move into your new rental. Ask the landlord if you can move in after signing the contract.
This step is typically next after the deep cleaning, but it also depends on when deep cleaning takes place. Ideally, you don’t want it to be after your deadline at your old apartment because you need a house, isn’t that right?
This shouldn’t cause any conflicts, but it’s always good to be sure.
Most people tend to get overexcited over their first house rent. Don’t be most people; instead of getting too excited, you better prepare some questions to ask beforehand to verify that you’re renting the best house for you.
While we’ve provided 11 questions to ask before renting a house, you don’t have to confine yourself to them. You can also come up with creative and revealing questions to ask the realtor.
It may not seem enjoyable. However, having to cancel the lease early because your landlord won’t let you bring your two adorable cats is even less enjoyable.
So, make a list of questions, and ask away!
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