10 Questions You Should Ask Your New Landlord Before Signing a Lease
After days of researching and trekking around neighborhoods to find your perfect apartment, you’ve finally found it! Yay! The logical next step is to sit down with your landlord or representative agent to sign the lease, but hold on! While most leases are quite comprehensive, even the most knowledgeable landlords can forget to include certain less common but important policies/terms in their leases. For example, you can expect most leases to outline when and how rent money is paid or whether subletting or lease breaks are allowed and how they are handled, and what utilities are included within the lease but maybe not talk about how often locks are changed and/or what will be done to prepare the apartment before the new tenant moves in. Today we’ll be going over both those policies along with some others and discuss why they are important to discuss with your landlord even if they aren’t included in the original lease you’re given to sign.
1. How often are locks changed?
Many people might not consider this until it’s too late! A good landlord should always ensure to change the keys to the apartment/house with each tenant change. If you live in an apartment complex with the main front door, then those keys should also be swapped every once in while to ensure security. Keys should especially be changed if anyone ever loses a set of keys which can mean danger for everyone else living in the building.
2. What will be done to prepare the apartment before you move?
Will old appliances be replaced? Will there be a fresh new coat of paint for the walls? Will the bathroom be regrouted? Will the current damages in the apartment be fixed before you move in? Asking these questions will ensure that you have an idea of what to expect when you actually move into the apartment.
3. What exact furnishings and appliances are included?
You might assume that your landlord is legally required to provide you with basic furnishings or appliances however they are not! This is why it is important to ask your landlord before moving in to get a better understanding of what furnishings and appliances are provided. Knowing what’s being supplied by the landlord will also help establish who is in charge of fixing normal wear and tear issues that may arise.
4. Any major upcoming renovations or construction planned?
This one is quite self-explanatory, but as a tenant, this information would be important to know so you’re aware and ensured your right to quiet enjoyment of the unit in the future.
5. How are maintenance issues handled?
It’s inevitable that at some point, something in your apartment might stop working. That’s why it is best to have an understanding of what you’re responsible for fixing and what the landlord is responsible for. Outside of that, you should also know who to go to (the super or the landlord?) and also the general timeline for when issues will be resolved. It’s also good to find out from the landlord, what he considers to be an emergency maintenance request and if there is someone available 24/7 to assist with these types of issues.
6. What counts as “normal wear and tear”?
Some landlords might be okay with a few scratches on the walls or hooks installed while others might immediately take that out of your security deposit. It is important to establish your landlord’s idea of what “normal wear and tear” is before you move in.
7. To what extent can the unit be personalized and is the landlord up for discussion?
Landlords have their own tolerances for the number of customizations from their tenants. Some may be okay with their tenants painting the cabinets, installing shelves, etc, whereas others might be upset from a simple nail in the wall. It’s important to establish what your landlord is okay with prior to signing the lease and also see if they are ever up for discussion in the future.
8. What is the guest policy?
While some landlords are okay with you having guests stay over for an extended period of time, others might not be. Establishing the exact policy will leave no room for interpretation and avoid any unpleasant situations.
9. How will the landlord handle complaints if you have issues with the neighbors?
While escalating issues with your neighbors to your landlord should be considered as a last resort, it should still be important to hear how your landlord plans to handle such issues. For example, will he be willing to speak directly to the neighbors or take drastic action if another neighbor is breaking community policies?
10. Have there been any pest infestations?
The most common pests that people living in cities have to deal with are often times mice, rats, cockroaches, and the worst, bedbugs! Be sure to ask your landlord if any of these infestations have taken place on the property and what was done to resolve the issue. Every state has their own rules on who is responsible for handling pest infestations (the tenant or the landlord) and so be sure to do your research on your own state and inquire the landlord on their policies to ensure your rights are being protected!