Found the perfect rental home? Don’t sign the lease just yet. Sit down with the landlord and/or property manager and ask a couple of questions. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re signing up for.
Here are the most essential questions you need to ask.
- What are the terms?
Like any other agreement, a lease has terms. This generally covers the period you’ll be renting property (1-month, 6-months, 1-year), as well as special clauses. For instance, what happens if you decide to move out before the lease period is over? And can you invite somebody to move in with you eventually?
Get the lease terms on writing so you can review it before signing.
- When is the rent due and what is the mode of payment?
Usually, rents are due on the first day of the month, but this depends on your landlord. Clear this up and ask if there is a grace period for late payments. Knowing when rent is due will help you budget your expenses more efficiently.
Find out if your landlord accepts different modes of payment. Checks and online payment are great options because they’ll give both you and your landlord proof of payment. These will also leave a record, which can help boost your credit score.
- Who pays for utilities?
Ask if utilities such as water, gas, heat, internet, and the like are included in your monthly rent. Clarify with your landlord which ones are part of the rent and which ones are not.
Some utilities like heating can be expensive especially when living in Alaska. Learning about who pays for such utilities from the start will help you figure out your monthly budget more easily.
- How much are the upfront costs?
Traditionally, landlords require incoming tenants to pay for the first and last months’ rent, security deposit, and other related costs. Remember to factor these upfront these expenses when choosing the perfect home to rent.
Your security deposit can be used to cover any damages incurred during your lease. If left untouched, this will be returned to you once your lease is over. This is one of the reasons why you discuss the terms and conditions of your lease to avoid any future misunderstandings.
- Can I make changes to the home?
Do you want to repaint the walls? How about the kitchen cabinets? Some landlords allow some level of customization to the home, others prohibit it.
To be sure, ask the landlord and check your lease for any policies that discuss the extent you can decorate the home. Not following the customization policies on your lease agreement could lead you to lose your security deposit.
- Who’s responsible for repairs?
Knowing who’s responsible for repairs early on will save you time and unnecessary stress in the future. Some owners will take care of the repairs themselves while others task it out to property managers.