9 Questions to Ask Before Signing an Apartment Lease
Before renting a house, you might have several questions regarding the house, most of which the property owner will answer easily. However, there are less obvious inquiries to make and so many aspects to consider when leasing an apartment. This is because many property managers will require you to sign a lease agreement. A lease is a legally binding document, which means that you need to understand all the clauses in there and ask for additional clauses, in writing, when an issue you deem important has not been highlighted. It is important to ask these 9 critical questions before signing a lease.
1. How much is the security deposit and can it be refunded?
In most cases, the deposit is equal to a month’s rent and landlords will refund the deposits so long as there is no damage to the property. To narrow down to the point, you can ask about the possible scenarios that could make you forfeit your money.
2. How is maintenance dealt with?
You need to know if there is a 24 hour maintenance staff on site and if not, how long you are expected to wait for repairs. You can also ask for the contact information of a utility maintenance staff. Big apartments will usually have staff on site who are accessible through a simple call to the front desk. You also need to inquire if all repair requests have to go through the landlord first.
3. When and how do you pay the rent?
You might know the cost of rent but you might not know how to pay it. Nowadays, large leasers take payment online with others preferring bank checks and drafts. You also need to know the costs of these methods of payment to be able to choose the most affordable. Moreover, inquire about the rent’s grace period and late fees to avoid penalties.
4. What is the policy for breaking the lease early?
People rent houses with the expectation of staying throughout the lease period. Sometimes, however, unforeseeable circumstances can force you to move out before your lease term is over. Many landlords do not have a problem with releasing the lease but some may attach a penalty or even refuse to give back your security deposit.
5. Are there rules about guests?
Different places have different guest policies and rules about visitors that you should understand to avoid penalties and breaking the rules. Some do not allow people to stay overnight and others have a specified period that a visitor can spend in your house.
6. What utilities are you responsible for?
Some landlords include the cost of utilities in the rent so you need to know what you are paying for independently. You also need to understand the lease procedures for setting up an apartment account with different service providers if your bills are not within the rent. While looking for a house, you could go for a property whose management has a discount deal with utility providers to help you save.
7. Can you make improvements to the house?
Some landlords keep a close eye on their property and do not allow tenants to change a thing, not even having a fixture added. Others do not care what you do with the place. Before getting into the agreement, ensure you read the policy about changes. If there is none and the landlord allows changes in the apartment, ensure you have it all in writing.
8. Are there rules for non-tenant access?
Sometimes, access to your place is required by your landlord or maintenance team. The lease should indicate the amount of notice that is required before non-tenants can access your unit. Some states even have laws that dictate how much notice is required before anyone can access your apartment.
9. Do you need to have renter’s insurance?
Insurance is a great thing to have and in some states, you cannot get a place to rent without insurance. As such, you need to know if your landlord requires you to have one. The best part is that it is quite affordable.