Before You Sign a Lease, Ask These Important Questions First

After what probably feels like months of looking for a new place to live, you are most likely thrilled when you finally find The One. It’s close to work, it’s in an area of town that you love, and it will serve as a wonderful home for you and your family. The fact that you have actually found a place you love and can afford can be truly exciting. But before your excitement takes over and you sign a rental lease, be sure to ask these important questions first!

When is the rent due?

This is one of the most important questions you should ask before signing a lease. Rent is generally due on the first of each month. However, many landlords give you a few days grace, allowing it to be paid a few days later, such as on the third or fifth of each month. While some property managers are laid back about late payments, some are very strict – charging you late fees or even evicting you if it happens more than once. Late fees can be awful, and an eviction is even worse, so be sure to find out the exact date the rent is due and be sure it is stated on your lease agreement.

How long is the lease?

You’ll find that most rental leases run for 12 months then expire. At this point, you are required to either sign a new lease or move out. But it is important to know that there is a wide variety of leases with differing lengths of time required. This is why you should ask when your lease expires before ever signing it. Along with this question, you should also find out if the lease will automatically renew or convert to a month-by-month tenancy. Most landlords or property managers will contact you prior to your lease ending in order to find out what your intentions are, but it is best to know how long your lease lasts before ever moving in so you understand your living circumstances well.

How do I document previous property damage?

Before you move into your rental property, your landlord will most likely be handling any damages that the previous tenant(s) inflicted upon the space – stained carpets, scarred or dirty walls, etc. But some damages to the property may be overlooked. When the day comes for you to move out, you don’t want to be held responsible for damages you didn’t cause. No way! This is why it is important to document any problems before moving in. There are several things you should check:

  • Functionality of electrical outlets
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Heating and air-conditioning systems

If you find any problems, be sure they are included in the lease agreement before signing it.

Is anything included?

When you rent a house or apartment, you expect to pay a monthly fee to live there. But it is unwise to assume that anything else is included in the rent. Trash pickup and parking, for instance, may have been included in the rent at your previous location, but that doesn’t mean they will be at your new home. So ask your landlord about what – if anything – is included prior to signing the lease.

Is there an eviction policy?

This question may make you feel as though you are labeling yourself a troublemaker, but it is actually a common and worthwhile thing to ask. When renting, it is important you and your landlord are on the same page. This eliminates any miscommunications or negative feelings toward one another. If your landlord prohibits anything specific – pets, loud parties, smoking inside or out, etc. – it is important to be aware of these things so you don’t get evicted because you broke certain rules.

Can I make improvements?

When you move to a new place, there are going to be certain things you just don’t like. For example, you may hate the faucets in the bathroom sink or wish to paint one of the bedrooms a different color. When owning a home, you have the privilege of making whatever improvements you want. But when renting, the ball isn’t totally in your court. Before moving in, it’s a good idea to ask your landlord if you are allowed to make changes to the property and if they are willing to pay for them. While some landlords may welcome the offer, some will be much more hesitant and say no. Either way, it is important to know their answer ahead of time and to have it documented in the lease.

Do you know of other important questions one should ask before signing on the dotted line? Help out your fellow movers and state them in the comments sections!

Best Ways to Wow a Landlord

When the time comes to move, the first thing you have to do is find a new place to live. There are tons of houses and apartments everywhere you turn, so the process should be simple, right? Well… not exactly. In truth, the rental process can be quite difficult. You can’t just point to a place and instantly move into it. There is the cost of rent to consider, for instance. You also have to meet the landlord and pass all of their requirements. Another thing you will find when searching for a rental property is that the rental market can be very competitive – especially if you are seeking residence in a highly desirable area, like New York or other major city. So how do you stand out and get a prospective landlord to choose you as their tenant? Continue reading for the best ways to wow a landlord and make that much-wanted home yours.

Know Your Credit Score

One of the first things a landlord will need before even considering renting to you is your credit score. The reason for this is that it provides a general idea of how fiscally responsible you are. When renting, a landlord wants a tenant that is going to pay their rent – on time and in the full amount. Pulling a credit history is the best way for them to know if they should take a chance on you.

Before a potential landlord checks your credit, it is a good idea to go ahead and get this information ahead of time. This is an especially good idea if your credit history is less than perfect. Being upfront with a future landlord can show them you’re responsible and in charge of your finances. It can also help iron out any potential flaws they might find on your credit report.

There are a number of websites where you can find out your credit score for free, such as creditkarma.com and annualcreditreport.com.

Be Organized and Efficient

Another way to wow a future landlord is to be organized and efficient. Do this by creating a folder that contains all of the necessary information and documents you will be asked for when applying for a rental home. Items include:

  • Your personal information;
  • Personal information of your spouse or roommates;
  • Copies of valid ID for each applicant;
  • Current employment information;
  • Documentation of previous rental history – former addresses, length of residence, contact information of former landlords;
  • Credit report for each applicant; and
  • Financial documents – bank statements, pay stubs, recent tax return.

Know What You Want

It’s rare that the first rental property you see will be the one you choose. This being said, finding a new place to call home can take some time. Before you even start your search for a new place to live, it’s important to know exactly what you are looking for. What features do you want it to have? Is a sizable kitchen a must? Are there any aspects – like minimal storage space – that are a deal breaker? Knowing the answers to questions like these will save a lot of time for both you and a prospective landlord.

Ask Important Questions

There’s no such thing as a stupid question. In fact, asking questions about a property will show a landlord that you have a sense of confidence and carefulness. Two things you definitely need when searching for a new home. When viewing a rental property, there are a number of important questions to ask, such as:

  • How much is the rent?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is heat gas or electric?
  • Is water included in the rent?

Landlords expect questions like these and are pleased by possible tenants who want to be informed about the property they seek to rent. Just don’t go overboard. The last thing you want is to ask so many questions that the landlord is put off and dubs you a potential complainer. So find a happy medium and stick to your most important questions during that first meeting with your future landlord.

Be Personable

When meeting a potential landlord, it’s important to make a good first impression. You’ll want to arrive on time and look presentable. You are basically meeting them to discuss a business deal, after all. It’s also good to remember that landlords are people too, so be personable; find a way to connect with them. Whether it’s a shared interest or simply common thoughts about the rainy or overly hot weather, building a rapport with a prospective landlord is a good way to get your foot in the door.

Have you had good luck impressing prospective landlords? Tell us about it in the comments!