When you’re renting a new home, be sure to ask some key questions before you sign the lease. Though the property may look fine, it’s wise to arm yourself with more information — before it may be too late.
What are the terms of the lease?
Ideally, you are a savvy renter who reads the lease agreement carefully — twice! But just in case you missed something, be sure to ask your future landlord or manager exactly how long the lease is for, what day the rent is due, how rent payment should be delivered and what happens if it’s late.
Who handles repairs and maintenance?
Though your prospective rental home may look well maintained, something will break sooner or later. When it does, who pays what and how? Generally, structural maintenance and repairs fall to the property owner, while wear and tear issues are the responsibility of the tenant. But you’ll want to know exactly what that means to your landlord and how to go about notifying her and getting repair estimates. Also find out whether you or your landlord will be maintaining the yard.
What changes can you make?
Even if you can’t foresee any interior decorating in your future, ask your landlord if you can paint, hang pictures, add shelves or make any other reversible alterations to the home. A tight policy on interior changes might put limits on the amount of time you’ll want to stay in the rental home.
What are the pet policies?
If there is no specific information in the lease about pets or a pet deposit, be sure to ask your landlord whether your pet is allowed. If you assume that no written restrictions mean that pets are okay, you might have a surprise down the line when your landlord discovers your furry roommate.
When you find the rental house you want, don’t jump into an agreement before asking some basic questions about life-after-lease-signing. A few minutes of conversation with your future landlord can make the difference between a happy or a hellacious stay in your new home.