Things to Ask a Landlord Before Moving In
- The most pressing question to ask is the total amount of rent due monthly. Also ask the date it is due and if there are any penalty charges for overdue payments. Ask about security deposits, which are often one and one-half months' rent. These deposits, which are generally refundable when you depart, are usually required upfront along with the first month's rent. Find out about payment options as well, and whether you can pay through automatic withdrawal, cash or bank check.
- Some landlords include the cost of utilities in monthly rent. Find out if any monthly utilities are part of your total rent, such as electricity, gas, water or trash. In some cases (although unusual ones), cable and Internet access are included in the rent.
- Just to get an overall feel for the place, it can be helpful to inquire to the landlord about the previous tenants. Consider asking how many people resided in the unit, the duration of the time they spent there and the reason they decided to leave.
- Ask your landlord about the kinds of neighbors in the area, whether it is an apartment building or a house on a suburban street. Find out if the area is mostly families, older and quiet people or young couples. The better you understand the locale, the easier it will be for you to determine whether you will fit in as a resident.
- Ask if you can adjust the decor of the unit in any way. It is crucial to get permission before you make any permanent or semi-permanent changes, whether through painting the walls or adding in an accordion door. Many landlords will tell you that it is a case-by-case situation.
- A lot of rental apartments and homes do not allow pets. Some allow only cats and others allow only dogs. If you are a pet owner, find out your landlord's policy before signing your lease.
- Inquire about possible roommates. If you have a spare room and would like to rent one out to someone, find out if that is acceptable to your landlord. Also ask about his subletting policies. For instance, if you plan to be away for the summer months, you may want to rent out your apartment temporarily.
- Knowing about the lease is a crucial component to moving into an apartment. Find out the exact length of your lease and how you can break it in the event that you need to move out immediately.
- Ask your landlord about possible raises in rent and what kinds of raises have occurred within the past few years. Find out if there are any restrictions on how much the rent can be raised annually.
- For health and cleanliness purposes, make sure you ask your landlord about any experiences with pests in the apartment, whether mice, rats, roaches or any other types of insects.