Before you sign a lease for a new rental property, there are several questions you may have. You’ll likely want to know the length of the lease, the rental rates, and what utilities you’ll have to cover. If this is your first time renting, you may not know what questions to ask. If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn some important questions to ask landlords before signing a lease for a property.
What to Consider Before Renting a Property
When looking at different rentals and deciding which one fits your wants and needs best, there are several things to consider. First, seeking out as much information as possible while looking at properties is essential. Here are a few points to consider before living in a rental.
- Screening Process
- Lease Terms
- Rental Rates
- Pet Policies
- Renter’s Insurance
Most landlords and property managers have an application and screening process. Before you get to this point, ask your landlord about their qualification requirements and screening process, so you know what to expect. Typically, landlords will run a background check and verify your income, rental history, and creditworthiness. If they check your credit, ensure it won’t hurt your credit score.
It’s crucial to fully understand the lease terms and what’s included in your lease. Find out how long the lease is, if it’s renewable, and if there’ll be any increases with a renewal. You’ll also want to understand if utilities are included in the rent or if you’ll pay them separately. Utilities can be split between the landlord and tenant, included in the rent, or paid fully by the tenant. Make sure you know these details before signing a lease.
When searching for potential properties to live in, compare rental rates and look for several options. Rentals are generally competitive, so it’s important to find one with the amenities you’re looking for at a fair rate. Don’t settle on the first rental you see. Instead, check out all the rentals in your area to find one that best suits your personal and financial needs.
It’s not uncommon for rentals to have strict pet policies. After all, when several tenants come in and out of one property, pet damages can stack up. If you have pets, it’s important to look for properties that allow them. You’ll likely have to pay an extra pet fee or pet deposit, which is another aspect to look into and plan for while searching for a place to live.
Some landlords require renter’s insurance to help tenants protect their property while renting. While it’s not always required, it’s generally a good thing to consider. Renter’s insurance can protect tenant property and cover emergency expenses if necessary. If you’re considering getting renter’s insurance, explore your options before settling on a policy.
Now that you know a few key items to look for in a rental let’s go over some common questions to ask landlords before signing a lease.
8 Questions to Ask Landlords During a Property Showing
Before you get too far in the application process, you’ll want to ask your landlord or Philadelphia property management company questions about the property. You’ll want to start asking some basic questions during the first property showing to get a good feel for the place you may potentially be living in. Here are eight questions to ask landlords during a property showing.
- How Long Is the Lease Term?
- What’s Included in the Rent?
- When Is Rent Due and How Can I Pay it?
- Is the Security Deposit Refundable?
- Are there Rules About Guests?
- What Happens if I Break the Lease Early?
- How are Maintenance Requests Handled?
- Can I Personalize the Unit?
How Long Is the Lease Term?
Of all the questions to ask landlords, finding out the lease term is crucial. Generally, a lease is 12 months. However, some landlords offer 6-month leases or month-to-month contacts. So one of the first things you’ll want to ask your landlord is how long the lease term is. Then, you can negotiate or ask whether the term is flexible to fit your needs.
What’s Included in the Rent?
Next, ask what’s included in the rent. After all, when you’re paying a monthly bill to live somewhere, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re paying for. For example, some landlords cover utilities, which is reflected in the overall rate. On the other hand, sometimes tenants are responsible for paying utilities separately. You’ll also want to inquire about amenities like parking, storage, and lawn care to see if these are included in the rent.
When Is Rent Due and How Can I Pay it?
Each landlord and property management company you work with may differ a bit. It’s crucial to find out when rent is due each month and what methods you can use to pay it. You’ll also want to know if there are any fees for paying rent late or missing a payment. There are several ways to pay rent. For example, you could pay with a direct deposit or through a rent collection app.
Is the Security Deposit Refundable?
Landlords almost always require security deposits, and generally, they’re refundable. As long as you take care of your rental, stay for the full lease term, and don’t cause major damages to the property, you should have no problem getting your deposit back. First, however, ask your landlord about the requirements and policies regarding the security deposit.
Are there Rules About Guests?
Some landlords have rules about guests, visitors, and extended overnight stays at your rental. For example, some leases don’t allow guests to stay overnight for several days in a row. If you like having people over or plan to have family stay with you for a week, make sure you won’t be breaking any guest policies.
What Happens if I Break the Lease Early?
You don’t want to enter a lease to break it before the term ends. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and you must move or find a new living situation. Ask your landlord immediately whether an early departure is allowed and what the penalties are. Breaking your lease early will likely result in your security deposit being withheld.
How are Maintenance Requests Handled?
Some rentals and property management companies offer 24/7 emergency maintenance, while others don’t. Find out your landlord’s policy and how quickly maintenance requests are generally taken care of. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a sink leak or a broken heater for days on end.
Can I Personalize the Unit?
One of the downsides of living in a rental is the lack of personalization you can bring. Ask your landlord about their tenant decoration and personalization policies to avoid damage fees. Some landlords are more lenient than others and may allow you to make significant changes, while others will be more strict, even about hanging pictures on the walls with nails.
The Importance of Understanding Your Lease Agreement
Understanding your lease agreement is crucial before moving into a rental entirely. After all, a lease is a legally binding contract that you and your landlord much follow. That said, you’ll want to find out as much information as possible before locking yourself into a lease agreement.
Asking your landlord questions is a great way to get a good feel for your landlord’s expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you should skim over the lease. Instead, read the entire agreement carefully to see if you missed any crucial information while asking your initial questions.
Ultimately, once you and your landlord sign the agreement, it’s locked into place until the term is up. So, to avoid financial or legal penalties while living in a rental, make sure you know the lease terms and clarify anything with your landlord that you’re not 100% sure about.
How Can a Property Management Company Help?
Finding questions to ask landlords about the property you’ll be living in is half the battle. If you’re looking for a rental property, it’s also important to look for a top-notch rental management company. A great management company can ensure quick maintenance turnaround, fair tenant screenings, and outline expectations and procedures before you sign a lease agreement.
For landlords that want to ensure an excellent experience for you and your tenants, consider Bay Property Management Group. We offer comprehensive management services in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. Contact us today if you need help managing your rentals.