It’s best to know what you’re getting into before you sign a lease to rent an apartment. It’s also best to know what’s expected of you as a tenant. On top of a meeting with your potential landlord and a viewing of the apartment, there’s something else you should do before signing the dotted line.
Before you sign a lease, get all the details sorted out by asking these questions.
Ask about rent. Of course, you need to know how much rent is each month, but it’s also important to know specifically when and how you’re to pay it.
What system does your landlord have for paying rent? Will you pay the first of every month? Should you write a check and drop it off somewhere, or can you pay through PayPal or a similar electronic payment option? What if you are late on rent one month? How are late fees calculated? There are situations where you need to move immediately (a new job for instance) – what is the penalty for breaking your lease?
Ask about pets. If you own a pet then one of your biggest concerns is probably your potential landlord’s policy on keeping them in the apartment. Some landlords make you pay extra to keep a dog or cat in your apartment in case of damages. Some don't allow pets at all. Even if you don’t currently own a pet, your landlord’s pet policy is still good to know in case you decide to purchase a pet later.
Ask about maintenance. If something breaks down – when will it be fixed? Your landlord should make sure efficient repairs are made whenever necessary. For privacy purposes, you should also make sure that you are always given a 'heads up' before any maintenance workers or repairmen enter your apartment.
In addition, are you allowed to make your own changes to the apartment – a new paint job on the walls for instance? Know this before you upset your landlord.
Ask about guests and parking. It shouldn’t be a problem to have friends over for a few nights – but be cautioned that some landlords have policies that prohibit guests from staying for lengthy amounts of time.
With guests coming over, they’ll need a place to park their vehicles – and on that note – so do you. What parking is available nearby?
Ask about renters insurance. Does your landlord require you to have renters insurance? A word from the wise – even if he or she doesn’t – you should consider purchasing renters insurance anyway to protect your personal property.
Ask about utilities. What utilities are included with your apartment (i.e. washer/dryer/wifi/etc.)? Do you have to pay extra fees to use them or are they included? Depending on the answer to that question – you may find that this could make or break your budget.
What else? If you have other nagging questions or concerns; voice them before you sign a binding contract. Have these things figured out beforehand to avoid lease-related headaches later.