If you’re looking for an apartment to rent or lease, there are certain questions to ask a landlord before renting the place. After all, this is where you’ll be living—you’ll want to be crystal-clear on the rules, right? So, before you impulsively sign that lease and pay your security deposit, make sure to stop, take a breath, and ask a few simple questions to make sure this rental is right for you.
1. What is included in the rent, and what fees will I have to pay?
Rent is just part of your living for the month—the biggest part—so you need to be sure you can comfortably cover all other costs of living in that space, including rent payments, renters insurance, and utility bills.
Most apartments will include utilities like water and sewage as part of the rent or lease payment, but other utilities such as heat, water, gas, electricity, trash, internet, and even pest control can be separate costs from your rent.
2. How many people can live here, and what is the visitor policy?
If you’re planning to live with roommates or have a large family, make sure you comply with the tenant occupancy standards of the apartment before renting.
Most of the landlords will only allow a certain number of people to live on the premises. So it’s advisable to discuss this with your landlord Also if you plan to have frequent or long-term guests at your rental, ask questions about the landlord’s guest policy.
“Most landlords will want to know if you have a guest staying more than a certain number of days,” says Young.
3. Is my security deposit refundable?
Make sure you have clarity about what part of the money you give your landlord upfront for the apartment or other rental is an administration fee, and what is a deposit.
Some deposits are fully refundable if the apartment is returned in good condition after the renter moves out, and some are non-refundable.
If the deposit is significant, ask important questions before move-in day about what conditions the lease spells out for the security deposit’s return, how maintenance requests are handled, and if there are any additional fees.
4. Do you accept pets, and if so, are there restricted pets?
If you have animals in your life, your search for an apartment or rental home might be a little more difficult, especially if your pets are exotic.
Some landlords and management companies charge renters a pet deposit, a nonrefundable pet fee, or even a monthly pet rent as part of a lease agreement. Ask questions in advance about the pet policy and what your furry pals are going to cost you before you sign a lease.
5. What’s the parking situation?
Depending on the location of the place you rent, parking at an apartment could be no big deal or an additional fee of hundreds of dollars a month on top of your rent.
If you have a car—or two or three—ask your landlord questions about tenants’ parking situations, whether you get a dedicated parking spot, and how much that parking spot is going to cost per month.
Ask the landlord questions about what street parking is like. In some neighbourhoods, it might not be possible.
6. What happens if I need to break the lease?
A lot can happen in a year: a surprise new job, a sick parent, an injury, a cross-country love connection. If for some reason you absolutely have to move from your apartment midlease, what will your options be?
Some landlords will require you to buy your way out, while others will just want you to find a qualified tenant to take over your lease, or sublet the apartment.
Policies and laws about breaking a lease vary widely, so it’s a good idea to ask your landlord lots of questions before you commit, sign the lease, and waste too much money on rent.
7. What can I change, and what do I have to change back?
sure your landlord is OK with your making changes to the rental.
“Most places will let you do anything as long as you return it to the original condition. Otherwise, the maintenance costs of fixing nail holes, repainting walls, and replacing light fixtures will probably come out of your security deposit.
If you’re a DIY expert, though, it’s a good idea to talk through any ideas with your landlord after move-in day. He or she might be interested in keeping some upgrades, or may even help pay for the cost of materials or give you a break on rent for your labour.
Just ask questions before you sign a lease.