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Questions To Ask Your Landlord Before Signing A Lease

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Renting is a big decision with plenty of unknowns. A lease is a legally binding contract, so it is best to get the essential details and information from your landlord before you take the big step of signing the lease agreement. Here are some questions to consider:

1. How long is the lease term?
Typically a lease is for a year, but in some cases you can sign a short-term rental that can be six months or less. It is important to know the length of your term because you will be locked into that time frame.

2. Are utilities included?
You might think rent is affordable, but is it really? Some landlords don’t include the cost of utilities, Wi-Fi, cable and parking with the rent. These extra expenses can add up, and you should ask what’s included in advance.

3. Are pets allowed?
If you have a pet or plan to get one, always ask the landlord about their pet policy. Many apartments either don’t allow pets or charge extra fees for them. If you have a pet, make sure your apartment is pet-friendly before you sign the lease.

4. When is rent due and how do I pay for it?
Whether your landlord lives in an apartment below yours or you actually send a check or pay online to the property management system, it’s important to find out when and how payments should be sent each month.

5. What are the rules for personalizing my apartment?
In most cases, you’re expected to leave your apartment in its original state when your lease is up. If you want to paint your walls or install unique art in the living room, you should discuss what kind of customizations are okay and which ones are most likely not allowed with your landlord.

6. How much notice will you give before entering my apartment?
Typically your landlord is required to give at least 24 hour notice before coming over and are only allowed to enter at reasonable times during business hours unless it’s an emergency. Make sure your lease agreement includes those details or ask your landlord.

7. What is the guest policy?
Some landlords can go as far as refusing any overnight guests, while others will allow visitors for any length of time (as long as you’re not disturbing other residents). Always discuss the guest policy with your landlord in advance.

8. What will you do to prepare the apartment before I move in?
Previous tenants don’t always leave the apartment in the best state. It is your landlord’s responsibility to make a clean, livable unit for you before you move in. Some apartments offer carpet cleaning and other services. If they don’t, ask what they can have done before you move in.

9. Who should I contact if there is an emergency? 
Ask for a contact person and phone number for after-hours emergencies such as water line breaks, heating/air problems, etc. 

10. What happens if you need to break the lease?
Many landlords won’t allow you to sublet for liability reasons. They’ve screened you, not the person subletting your apartment. There might even be an additional “early termination fee” to break your lease depending on your landlord and their rules regarding terminating a lease.

With this list, you should be good to go with apartment hunting. Know your rights as a tenant and always ask questions if you’re not sure about something.


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