Looking for your first place? Before you sign your lease, check out these 10 smart questions to ask a potential landlord, so you know who is responsible for what costs and when—you’ll thank us later.
- How much is the rent, when is it due, and how would you like me to pay it (e.g., a personal check or a payment online)? How many days after the due date will you start charging late fees? Will you prorate rent according to the date I choose to move in or out? And will you raise the rent on me if I plan to stay another year?
- How much is the security deposit, what might you use it for, and what do I need to do when I move out to get it back (e.g., hire a professional cleaner, fix any dings or dents)?
- How long is the lease, and is there a penalty for breaking the lease early? If so, can I sublease to someone else for the remainder of the lease? Or will you require me to pay for re-listing and re-renting the place?
- Are there any additional dues or fees to live in the house or apartment building, such as parking or maintenance fees? Do I have to pay for an extra set of keys if I lose mine?
- What utilities, if any, are included in the rent? Will the utilities be in your name or mine?
- Can I make physical changes to the house or apartment such as painting walls or changing light fixtures? If so, do I need to request those changes in writing beforehand?
- How will you handle repairs and maintenance for the house or apartment? Is it up to me to coordinate and pay for fixes? Am I responsible for lawn care and snow shoveling? If so, will you provide the necessary equipment?
- What amenities do you offer? For example, is there an on-site gym, business center, or laundry facility? How much does it cost to wash and dry clothes?
- Do you allow pets? If so, do you charge a pet deposit and is it refundable? Are there breed or weight restrictions for pets?
- Will you require me to buy renters’ insurance? If so, is there a minimum coverage amount?
Did we miss any? What questions do you wish you would’ve asked before leasing a place, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.