In a rush to find a suitable living arrangement, many renters forget that a lease is a binding legal contract. In order to avoid any problems down the line, a renter should understand their rights and obligations before they sign any paperwork. Here are some of the questions a renter may want to ask a property manager or owner about the property. If you are viewing two or more properties, it will be helpful to write down the answers to these questions in a small notebook so you can compare your options at a later time.
With new online tools listing rentals in the city or town you are looking to move to, some of these questions can be answered from the information available online; however, others you will only be able to obtain by directly asking the property manager or owner.
1) What length lease is available or required? (is it a month-to-month rental, 6 months, 9 months or 1 year?)
2) Exactly when is the apartment available for you to move in?
3) Are utilities included in your rent payment? Which ones, if any? How will you be billed for these utilities?
4) How much of a security deposit is required?
5) Will you be subject to a credit check and if so, will there be a nonrefundable fee?
6) When is the rent due and is there a grace period before you incur a late fee?
7) What form of payment is required? Are personal checks accepted or must they be cashier checks only?
8) Is there a penalty for a late payment and what is the fee?
9) Are there penalties if you terminate the lease before it expires? What are the fees, if any?
10) Are there restrictions on pets or children?
11) Will the rental be freshly painted before you move-in?
12) Are there restrictions to any minor improvements you might want to make? Such as painting?
13) Are there restrictions on hanging pictures or other types of attached shelving?
14) Will carpeting, blinds or drapes be supplied?
15) Is extra storage space available for bikes and large objects? Is there an extra charge for storage?
16) Are there special hours for moving in?
17) Are you required to use special service elevators or stairs to move in?
18) Are there laundry facilities on the premises?
19) Is assigned parking available? Is free or designated parking available for your guests? Are there limits on the number of vehicles?
20) Are there amenities (such a pool, exercise gym, etc. ) on the premises? And what are the terms for their use?
These general questions will help you assess whether the rental you are considering is the right fit for you. As mentioned previously, if you are looking at two or more properties, the answer to the questions most important to your lifestyle may be the deciding factor as to which property will be your best option.
Nef Cortez has been a licensed real estate broker and has held various positions in the real estate and mortgage industry for over 25 years. If you would like to read more of Nef's pithy and timely advice (with the latest info on local foreclosures), visit his website at Diamond Bar Houses or read his blog at Southern California Real Estate Blog