Renting a property - whether you've just graduated from school or are moving to a new neighborhood - is a big decision with plenty of unknowns to consider. For that reason, we've put together this list of 19 questions to ask a landlord before you become a tenant.
Depending on your circumstances and whether you are working directly with a landlord, with a realtor or a property management company, many of these questions will be addressed in a lease agreement. That said, it's helpful to be thinking about them before you have to sign that lease.
Top 19 Questions that a Tenant Should Ask a Landlord
1. Are utilities included in the rent?
2. How often will rent increase and by approximately how much?
3. When is rent due and how will you need to pay?
4. What grace period is there for rent payment?
5. What are the terms of the lease agreement?
6. What happens if you need to break the lease or extend the lease?
7. How much security deposit will you need to pay?
8. When can you expect the security deposit to be returned once you vacate the property?
9. Is there a pet policy and will you need to pay a pet deposit?
10. If you are renting a property within a condominium or Home Owner Association (HOA), what are the rules and restrictions?
11. Does the landlord require tenant insurance? If yes, what should it cover and is there a minimum required?
12.What responsibilities will you have as a tenant? Are they fully detailed in the lease?
13. What responsibilities will the landlord have to you as tenant?
14. How do things get fixed? What gets fixed? Is there an online system for reporting issues? For example, this article describes How Is A Tenant Repair Request Handled For My Rental Property at Chesapeake Property Management.
15. What is forbidden? Ask about painting walls, installing satellite dishes and cable, kids, guests, loud noises at certain times of day...
16. Is parking available? Is there a cost associated with parking?
17. What can you expect about the landlord entering the property while you live there? This, too, should be spelled out in the lease.
19. What do you need to know about garbage collection and recycling for the property?
Advice to Renters For Interacting With Landlords Effectively
Based on our experience, we recommend that tenants communicate regularly with their landlords or property management companies. Ask first about doing something that affects the property. Then, make sure you have the approval documented and keep it with your records. Landlords don't like surprises.
Consider doing a walk-through before moving into a new rental property with the landlord or property manager to document the condition of the property. Be ready to do the same when you vacate the property.
Know what your rights are as a tenant. Here is the link to the Maryland Attorney General site page with information about Landlords and Tenants.
Here are some resources about tenants and landlords that you may find helpful:
- 13 Things You Didn't Know You Should Ask When Renting An Apartment
- 15 Questions to Ask Your Landlord Before Signing the Lease
- Tips for Renting Your First Apartment