You may not be in the position to buy a house at this time. So, the next best option would be to rent. However, renting can be a little bit overwhelming. If you have never rented a home or apartment before, you might have a lot of questions about renting. So in this article we will do a deep dive into some of the most important questions to ask when renting a house – in our opinion – so that you have all the knowledge in one place that you can easily refer back to when making your home renting decisions.
You will want to take the time to thoroughly go through this article because when it comes time to rent you want to make sure that you get all your questions answered by the owner of the property (the landlord) so that you have the best possible experience when it comes to renting your home. This information will be especially helpful if you are renting for the first time, so let’s dive straight into some of the most important questions to ask when renting a house.
Do I have to pay a security deposit and are there any non-refundable fees that I need to be aware of and what are they for?
Most of the time you will be covered by state law when it comes to the security deposit and fees that state the amount you pay in a security deposit or fee will be returned to you when your lease comes to an end and you leave the rental unit. But despite these state laws, some landlords will include a non-refundable fee into the lease.
That is why it is super important to read through the lease thoroughly before signing anything. Reading through your lease thoroughly will allow you to further read up on what is being stated in the lease and you can even seek advice from a legal professional to discover if what the landlord is asking for in the lease/rental agreement is legal or not.
How soon are you looking to fill out this unit?
When it comes to renting out their property units, landlords do not like to have their property unit vacant for extended periods of time. That is why it is important to ask the landlord when exactly do they wish to fill the unit. This will allow you to get some insights into how long the property unit has been vacant for, which will tell you how urgently the landlord is looking to fill the unit with a paying tenant.
If the landlord says that they are looking to fill the unit in the next 3 months then that is a completely different situation than if they tell you it would be good if you could move in next week. What you want ideally to happen is for the need to fill the unit to be urgent but not super urgent, giving you time to thoroughly make your decision and read over the lease/rental agreement before signing and making your final decision to move in.
Knowing when the landlord wants a tenant to move in is also good to not waste the time of the tenant or the landlord. If they need you to move in by May 30th but the absolute earliest you would be able to move in is July 1st, then that is a mismatch of dates and it will probably be best for the landlord to look for a potential tenant that would be able to move in by May 30th.
What payment methods do you accept for rent?
It will be important as a tenant to know all the available options that you have for paying your rent. As paying your rent on time each and every month is essential to stay within the law and make sure that you do not get on the wrong side of your landlord by missing monthly rent payments.
The most common form of payment method that most landlords will opt for is online transfer, as this is the quickest to set up and will have very little fees, meaning that the landlord will get 97%-98% of the monthly rent price. If your landlord for whatever reason does not allow for the electronic transfer of your rent each month and they want you to pay by check, then you have to decide if that is something that you are willing to do.
Having to pay by check each month is not the most ideal situation to be in as a tenant, but this is often the case when the landlord of the rental property is elderly and they are not all that tech savvy and they are not familiar or comfortable with mobile banking.
One situation that you should absolutely avoid at all costs, is when your landlord wants you to only pay your rent in cash each month. In our opinion you should not do this, as when you pay by cash it leaves you vulnerable to a whole lot of situations like being robbed of your cash.
Your landlord could ask you to put the cash in an envelope and leave it in their mailbox and then they come to you the next day stating that you have not paid the full amount and need to settle the rent balance. As you can see, paying by cash is not ideal, however with that being said, you can pay by cash every now and then if something goes wrong with online payments. But, if your landlord solely wants you to pay with cash then that should serve as a warning sign and you should not do business with that landlord.
What lease duration are you looking for?
One of the questions to ask when renting a property is the lease duration. You need to know what kind of lease duration the landlord is looking for. This is very important information to have because if you are looking to sign a 12-month lease but the landlord is asking for a minimum of a 24- month lease, then that is something that you will not be able to comply with.
You might also want a 6-month lease and the landlord is offering a minimum 12-month lease. So you absolutely need to make sure that the lease duration is in line with what you are able to follow through with, otherwise there is not much point in going further with the rental property enquiry. So one of the most important questions to ask when renting a house is what is the duration of the lease/rental agreement. You want to ask this question as one of the first things you ask the landlord in order to see where you both stand when it comes to signing the lease for the home.
Can I get clarity on the rent, deposits and the cost of the utilities?
You will want to make sure that you ask this question to the landlord because sometimes a landlord will list their home on the rental market and the listing will sit on the listing website for months and months until someone like you comes along and enquires about the home.
As you know, the rental market fluctuates all the time and you want to make sure that you are given the most up-to-date pricing when it comes to rent, deposits and cost of the utilities as prices may have gone up or down since the time that the home was listed on the market.
The last thing you would want to happen is get all excited about the home and then come to find out that the rent price has gone up substantially and is now out of your budget. So this question to ask when renting a house in our opinion falls into the top 3 questions that you would want to ask before making the decision to rent a certain property.
Doing this from the get go will let the landlord also know that you are a serious prospect and that you are highly interested in the home so be sure to get this question out of the way as one of the first conversation points with the landlord.
Keep in mind that the price of rent will be negotiable in most situations if the landlord is asking for a higher price than what was initially stated in their listing. You can bring to their attention the advertisement listing, point out the listing rent price and in most situations the landlord will offer you the rent price that was initially stated in the listing.
What’s your policy for late rent?
Rent is a very touchy subject and not everyone enjoys talking about money, but it has ro be done. Especially when you are negotiating a potential lease with a landlord. You need to make sure that you understand all the policies when it comes to paying rent late, most of the time you will be covered by state law but just to be certain you can do a quick Google search for late rent policy in your specific area.
Most of the time, the landlord will be upfront and open about their policy for late rent, but it is still a good question to ask. Keep in mind that all of these questions that we are outlining in this article are in no particular order of importance, they are all equally important questions that you need to ask.
Do you allow early lease terminations and if you do what fees are associated with it?
The lease is the legal agreement between the landlord and the tenant. It will state everything that is allowed and not allowed when it comes to the renting of the property. A lease/rental agreement is not by nature meant to be broken or terminated early. In an ideal world a tenant will sign a lease, stick to what it says until the time comes when that said lease/rental agreement expires.
But as you know we do not live in a perfect world and in some situations a lease/rental agreement will need to be terminated early, so you will want to make sure that you ask this so that you understand everything that would be involved in this procedure, if at some point during your stay you need to terminate your lease early. Also make sure to note any and all fees that the landlord will ask for to make this procedure happen.
If the landlord has done their proper research, in the lease they will state an early termination clause and everything that is involved with it. So that if a tenant does decide that they need to terminate their lease early they know all the steps to take and all the required costs that this would involve for them.
Typically, the tenant will be required to pay two or even three months rent in the situation where they need to terminate their lease early. In worst case scenarios, the landlord will require the tenant to pay rent in full each month until their vacant home has been taken up by a new tenant or for the remainder of the lease.
We hope we covered all of your questions in this article regarding all the questions to ask when renting a house. However if for any reason you still remain unclear on anything or there is any confusion then feel free to get in touch with us here. With many years of experience we know what it takes to succeed in this industry and we would be more than happy to help you out and answer any and all of your questions or concerns that you might have.