For many people, renting a house comes with many benefits that an apartment – or even homeownership – can’t offer. But before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to be sure that a potential property is a perfect place to call home. We’ve created a helpful list of questions to ask when renting a house, from lease terms to maintenance responsibilities.
Questions Every Renter Should Ask Their Landlord
There are many important questions to ask rental property owners/landlords – and you should never feel like you’re asking too many questions.
Ultimately, a landlord or property manager should have the same goal as you do: to ensure that the home is the right fit for you, the prospective tenant. And these are exactly the questions to help you both accomplish just that.
1. What is the monthly rent?
You’ve probably already researched a property’s monthly rent before adding it to your list of potential homes.
However, remember to inquire about any additional expenses added to the monthly rent. For example, some landlords may require tenants to pay the monthly dues to the community’s Homeowners’ Association (HOA). Or, you may be responsible for paying for a portion of upkeep costs, such as landscaping or pool maintenance.
2. What is the application process?
The rental application process can vary considerably from property to property, so asking beforehand is always a good idea.
Some rental properties may require a credit check and one or more references, while others ask only for a security deposit and basic application information. If you’re considering a property that involves submitting a credit report, you can ask if it is a “hard” credit report (one that will affect your credit score) or a “soft” one (one that has no impact on your credit score).
3. Is the lease for a year, month-to-month, or something else?
Although a year-long lease over a 12-month period used to be the market standard, it’s no longer the only option. Now, you may be able to choose between 6 month or year lease agreement, one that is month-to-month, or a lease that renews every quarter (or something similar). These lease options could be a choice you’re permitted to make or one that the landlord has already firmly decided.
Depending on your specific needs, this can be an advantage and a drawback situation for tenants. For example, it can be beneficial to have the flexibility to suit your lifestyle and budget. However, if the landlord insists on month-to-month short-term leases, it could mean that you’ll end up moving sooner than you’d like. Weigh the pros and cons to figure out your best-fit option. To learn more, check out our article on how to rent a house.
4. Is the move-in deposit refundable?
Virtually every rental property requires a security deposit for renting, primarily to protect the landlord/property owner. In some cases, this security deposit applies towards your first month’s rent; in others, it can be partially or fully refunded when you move out. Ask about the security deposit requirements and get the details in writing.
5. When will the rental house be available for move-in?
Knowing when you can move into the rental home will be crucial in planning. Try to overlap your new and old lease by a few days to allow extra moving time. Or, if there will be a gap between leases, make sure to plan accordingly.
6. Who is responsible for yard work and upkeep?
Is the outdoor upkeep something to add to your to-do list, or does the property manager take care of it for you? And if there are repairs needed, who will take on the task?
Some property management teams (like the ones at all Wan Bridge built-to-rent communities) handle yard work and exterior upkeep, so you never have to worry about chores like pulling weeds, trimming plants, or touching up paint.
7. What is the parking situation?
Do you have to pay for parking at the rental? Does the home have a private driveway, or is it street parking only? And what happens when you have visitors – can they park on the property?
Availability of parking spaces is an important detail and could determine if a property is a good option for you.
8. Am I allowed to paint walls or make minor renovations?
Having the option to make small changes – such as painting interior walls, hanging shelves, or even switching out hardware – can turn a rental house into somewhere that truly feels like home. Ask the property manager or landlord about the rules for updating the home and what upgrades you are permitted to make.
9. Is smoking allowed in or on the property?
These days, many rental homes are smoke-free properties. Asking about the smoking policy can save you the headache of cleaning and smoke removal charges when you move out. If no smoking is allowed, the landlord can designate an outdoor area for you to use instead.
10. What is the pet policy?
Finding a rental that allows pets can sometimes be tricky, especially with varying limits on pet sizes, breeds, and types. Clear communication makes all the difference, so be open and honest and ask the right questions.
- What kinds of pets are allowed?
- What are the limitations on pets (e.g., number of pets, types, breeds, weight, etc.)?
- Is there a monthly pet rent charge? A pet deposit?
- Are there different expectations for cleaning after moving out?
11. How often are the house locks changed?
Asking about a home’s locks might not be the first rental question that comes to mind, but it’s an important safety issue. Request that the locks be changed before you move in, so you can have the peace of mind of knowing that nobody else (other than you and your landlord) has a key.
Find Your Dream Home with Wan Bridge
If you have other rental questions to ask, the Wan Bridge team is happy to help. We are confident that our one-of-a-kind built-to-rent communities can suit our current and prospective tenants’ diverse needs, so let’s chat more about what living in a Wan Bridge community will look like for you.
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