10 Money Questions to Ask a Landlord Before Signing a Lease

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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)?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. What utilities, if any, are included in the rent? Will the utilities be in your name or mine?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. Do you allow pets? If so, do you charge a pet deposit and is it refundable? Are there breed or weight restrictions for pets?
  10. 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.