Whether you’re renting for the first time or not, there are important questions to ask and think about during the process. Asking the right questions can make an enormous difference in how successful you are in finding the right place and being happy in it once you do. Here are some questions every renter should ask while searching for a property.
What are the financial screening requirements?
Just like mortgage lenders, landlords and property managers have a specific financial criteria for potential tenants. Financial qualifications usually comprise monthly household income and credit score, though some may also require additional information like past utility bills. If you do not meet the criteria, ask if they allow co-signers on the lease.
Are pets allowed?
Pets are another common deal-breaker both for landlords and prospective tenants. Therefore, it’s crucial to ask if pets are allowed on the property. If they allow pets, there may be restrictions on the type of pet and additional fees. If they allow dogs, make sure you clarify any breed or size restrictions. Some landlords charge an additional “pet rent” added onto the monthly cost while others require an additional deposit.
Are utilities included?
Monthly utility payments are part of the cost you’ll need to budget for when searching for a rental. These costs include things like water, electric, gas, garbage service and internet. However, some rental communities and owners include one or more utilities in the monthly rent. Ask which utilities they include in the rent, if any and whether they are flat or variable fees.
What are the upfront costs?
Landlords and property managers have a variety of requirements for upfront payment. Most include a refundable security deposit meant to cover cleaning and repairs of the property after you leave. Many also require paying the first month’s rent up front at signing first and last together. Any annual or one-time community related fees are due at signing as well, so make sure you ask for an itemized list of the costs they expect you to cover before moving in.
How do I pay rent?
While many renters have the option of online bill pay, your landlord may have different requirements. If they require a personal check, clarify where and when to drop it off or whether you need to mail it instead. If they use an online portal for rent payments, ask if there are any additional fees for you as the tenant. It’s common for online payment portals to charge a service fee for paying with a credit or debit card, for example—and these small percentages can add up quickly.
Keep these questions in mind when investigating a potential rental property and you’ll not only avoid confusion but save yourself time and money.