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Questions to ask before signing a lease

Couple on meeting with real estate advisor

Renting for the first time can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming. With so many things to look over, it’s important to take the time and find out everything you can about the property. Before taking the final step and signing that lease, here are some questions you need to ask:

What is the lease term?

It’s important to discuss the actual lease terms with the landlord and make sure to get it in writing. It always pays to be certain and to double check what is written on the contract to see if what you’ve agreed to beforehand has been factored in.

What does the rent include?

To avoid unwanted surprises, always ask about the utilities to be included in the rent. In some instances, the rent could be at a reasonable price only because a number of utilities aren’t included. Knowing the type of utilities included in the rent can help you budget and figure out what your overall expenses would be.

Are appliances and furniture included?

Before signing the lease, it’s best to make sure the appliances and furniture you saw during your tour of the property are included. Some appliances and furniture could belong to the current tenant and may be gone once you’ve moved in. Always check if all the appliances and furniture that are said to be included with the property are listed on the lease.

Can the property be personalized?

Ask the landlord or management company about whether you can personalize the property and to what extent. Check the lease thoroughly to see if there are penalties that come with changing parts of the property. Some properties have very strict rules about changing even simple things like paint, wallpaper, or hanging frames on walls. It’s important to verify their policy so you don’t risk paying extra fees or losing your security deposit.

What is the maintenance policy?

Knowing the full extent of the maintenance policy lets you know what sort of maintenance you are responsible for and what will be covered by the landlord. You should also ask about their process for handling service or maintenance requests. This will give you an idea of how quickly and efficiently they can fix maintenance problems.

What are the rules for guests?

Inquire about guest policies and how long you are permitted to have them over. In some cases, there are stipulations regarding having guests stated in the lease that were left out by the landlord during discussions. It’s better to ask outright rather than risk breaking one of the terms of the lease and getting penalized.

What is the renewal policy?

If you really like the property and the neighborhood, it’s a good idea to inquire about the renewal policy. Some properties require advance notice for renewing leases, so it’s better to ask early on just in case you’re interested in continuing to rent in the future. You can also ask about different lease terms or buying the property from the landlord down the line.

If you’re looking for more advice on what to do when renting property, check out the website or call the real estate professionals at RMJ Services at 888.454.4032. You can also email at