Questions to Ask Landlord

Questions to Ask a Landlord Before You Sign a Lease from LandLordStation.com

If you are looking at a property to lease, there are questions to ask landlord or property managers. LandLordStation.com has a tenant resource center that offers a discussion about the questions to ask a landlord prior to renting a property. You should feel free to ask questions because signing a lease is a business contract. Responsible parties to any business contract should have as much information as possible. If you are not happy with the answers to your questions, move on and look for another rental.

The following is a list of suggested questions to ask a potential landlord. First, take a look at the lease agreement that the landlord is asking you to sign. Most of the questions you may have will be (or should be) addressed in the lease agreement. If there is something missing in the lease agreement that you consider important, ask the potential landlord to add it to the lease. Some of our suggested questions are as follows:


Rent, Fees and Deposits

What is the rental amount?

When is the rent due and is there a grace period?

What are the late fees and when do they take effect?

How should I pay the rent and how is it collected?

Can I pay the rent in person?

Can I pay with cash or a credit card?

Is there an address in the lease where I should send the rent?

Are there any specials on rent?

Do I get a reduced rent if I refer a friend?

What is the amount of deposits and/or fees?

What am I required to pay up front?

Will the landlord provide information about the financial institution in which the deposit is being held?

When and under what conditions can I get the deposit back?

Do I need to set up my own utilities or are the utilities included in the rent?

Is subletting allowed?

Is renter’s insurance required?

Landlord

How long has the landlord been in business?

Does he or she manage other properties?

Does he or she own the property, or are they managing the property for the owner?

Is there a way to contact the landlord after hours if there is an emergency situation?

Is the owner of the property in bankruptcy or foreclosure?

Are there any outstanding fees on any of the utilities which service the rental unit?

Maintenance

What kind of shape is the unit in?

When was the last time the prospective rental unit was updated or remodeled?

What appliances are included in the rental? Do all the appliances work?

How is the water pressure?

How do I file a request for maintenance services?

How long does it usually take for services to be completed?

How does the landlord handle complaints about maintenance?

How does the landlord handle pest control?

Does maintenance ever enter apartments without giving notice?

How often does the landlord inspect the premises?

Can I make improvements like painting, gardening, etc.?

Who maintains the outdoor space? If it is the renter’s responsibility, exactly what is expected and how often?

Pets

Are pets allowed?

How many pets are allowed per unit?

What is the pet deposit?

Is there pet rent?

Are there pet fees?

What are the amounts of each?

Under what conditions will my pet deposit be returned?

Parking and Safety

What is the parking situation?

Is my parking spot reserved or shared?

Are car break-ins a problem?

How safe is the unit I am looking at?

Have there been any break-ins in the last year?

Do the windows lock?

Is there a security system?

Does the door have a deadbolt? Can I have one installed?

How can I verify that the landlord has changed the locks between residents?

These are just some of the questions that you should ask prior to signing a lease. If you have already signed a lease and are ready to move in, or have already moved in, it is not too late to pick questions to ask your landlord from this list.


The following is a list of some additional things to consider when making your list of questions to ask landlord or rental manager.

1) There is a difference between a deposit and a fee.

A deposit is an amount of money you pay and the landlord places it in an escrow account. At the end of your lease, if all of the conditions have been met, you are refunded the money. Usually the deposit requires that you pay the rental payments on time, that you return the property to the landlord at the end of the lease in good condition, and that you have completed the full term of the lease.

A fee is an amount of money you are charged that you never get back. An example of a fee is if you pay the rent late you are charged a late fee.

Ask the landlord to explain all the deposits and fees on the property to you in detail. Ask that the details for each fee and deposit be put in the lease.

2) Get improvement and repair promises in writing.

If the landlord promises you that improvements or repairs will be made to the property, ask the landlord to put that in writing and add it to the lease. You should also ask that a time frame for the repair or improvement also be specified.

3) A landlord cannot discriminate against someone with children, however …

State and local laws often state that only 2 people can occupy each bedroom. So, if you are a single parent with 3 children, you have to rent a place with 3 bedrooms, even if your little children can all share the same room. If a landlord refuses to rent to you because you have children, have him put his refusal in writing. You can take that document to the Federal Housing Department and file a complaint.

4) If you plan to have long-term guests …

Advise your potential landlord. Some landlords require that a guest who stays of over 30 days be added to the lease as a tenant. If the landlord says that the guest can stay indefinitely, ask the landlord to put that in writing and attach it to the lease.

As you can see, there are many things to consider before you sign a Lease Agreement. Ask as many questions as you can and don’t be afraid to ask the landlord to add items to the lease so that you have them in writing. It is much better to have to reject a rental and find another than to move into, than to be unhappy. When you sign a rental agreement, it is a legally binding contract, and to break it will cost you money and can affect your credit rating. LandLordStation.com has additional information at our ‘Tenant Resource Center’.

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