You have big plans to move into a new house or apartment. The two of you know what you want in terms of size and features, and you may even see something in that dreamy perfect location. However, before you sign anything, there are some questions you must ask your would-be future landlord. Some may seem like small questions at the time, but they could have big implications when it comes to your immediate future.
Get a verbal confirmation with the lessor that the advertised price is the one you'll actually pay. You'll need to know the details of the lease, what day of the month the rent is due, and what the place charges for late payments. They should tell you what they want for a first and last month's rent, but get it in writing.
Ask if there is a security deposit. If there is, ask if normal wear and tear factors into the eventual return of your security funds.
Ask whether utilities are included in the rent. That should be explained in any rent or lease agreement, but it's your fault if you move in and then find out you're expected to pay in full for your gas or electricity. Ask if the property pays for services such as well water or trash removal. If your lease gives you the option, negotiate terms for extras such as cable or satellite service.
Find out if subletting the rental is an option. A sublet means you can rent the residence to someone else. Many leases forbid this practice.
The situation may come up where you'll need to leave the apartment before the lease runs out. It helps to know in advance exactly what that will cost you. Some places will demand at least two rent payments before they'll let you go without a legal fight.
Rental tenants can expect repairs and routine upkeep of the residence to be done by qualified persons. However, it's not a given that you'll be able to reach those people when you need them. Ask for a list of phones numbers so you'll know who to call, and when, for plumbing, electrical and structural repairs.
General safety features, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, must be in working order. Their maintenance is usually part of a lease, but ask the person you're working out the lease with for details. In some apartments, the renter is responsible for changing the batteries and keeping the devices clean. Find out if the property has a security system, and how to contact any security officers after hours. Finally, ask if the community has a neighborhood watch in place.
Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.