10 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Home
When renting your first apartment or home, many times, you are so excited to be getting your own place. Before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few questions you should ask your new landlord.
1. Can I paint?
Most leases stipulate that when you move out, the apartment must be restored to the same condition you got it in. If you painted the walls purple, you could be expected to repaint them to their original ‘builder beige’. (Covering over purple paint is not easy.) Some landlords have a clause in the lease that says you need their written approval before painting or decorating. Yes, decorating can be a problem too. Putting up wallpaper, driving nails into the walls – All that might need to be pre-approved and sometimes reversed when you move out.
2. Can I have a pet?
Some landlords forbid any cats or dogs. Check what you’re landlord’s policies are. You also should ask about visiting pets. While not all landlords refuse to allow pets, some refuse certain breeds. If your landlord does allow pets, more likely than not, you will pay an extra pet security deposit.
3. What is the policy about guests sleeping over?
Your new landlord will want to know how many people are living in the home. Some places limit the number of guest nights per month you can have. The reason is simple, when you submitted your rental application, the landlord ran a background check to make sure you would be a good tenant. When you have a friend move in with you, the landlord want’s to make sure to run the same checks as you went through.
4. Where’s the exit?
Once you sign a lease, you are stuck until the lease term is up. A lease term is generally a year unless you’ve negotiated it to be longer or shorter. So what happens if you get a job offer you can’t refuse 3,000 miles away? Before signing, find out the penalties for breaking the lease. Remember, verbal agreements are not the same as written ones, so make sure you get it in writing!
5. Are there Quiet Hours or other rules?
Weather an apartment or a residential home, there will be a mix of ages and demographics, all trying to co-exist peaceably. In order to do this successfully, some communities have quite hours, common areas are just that – for everyone’s use, not just yours. Before you sign a lease, make sure of any charges associated with common areas (cleanup fees for the party at the clubhouse, use of the gym etc.)
6. If you have a roommate, who is the person responsible?
If you have a roommate, you are jointly liable for the rent. Don’t hand your landlord half the rent and tell him that your half is covered.
7. What about Parking?
You likely will get one parking spot assigned to your rental unit. Great, but where do your friends park when they visit? Check to see if there is a security guard on the premise to deal with parking violations.
8. Are there rules for Garbage and recycling?
In some buildings, only certain household generated trash can be put in the common dumpster – no mattresses or bookcases. Some buildings say you can’t put out your garbage can until 6pm on the night before collection. Some buildings require you to recycle.
9. What do you do if something goes wrong in the unit?
The protocol for getting things fixed may not be fully spelled out in your lease, but it’s worth asking about. Some buildings have on-site building managers whose door you knock on when the faucet leaks. Some landlords hire a service that you call, and some landlords want to be called directly.
10. Can I actually afford this?
Great question! The experts advise spending no more than 35% of your after-tax income on housing expenses. If you’re take home pay is $1,500 a month, that’s $525 for rent and utilities. Remember, you still have to eat, pay for your phone, car insurance and clothes!
Southern Group Property Management, located at 15 E. Martin St. Raleigh, NC 27601 manages over 100 properties in the Raleigh Area. If you are interested in renting a property, visit our website to see what we have available. If you have an investment home or unit that you want managed, visit our website for more information or give us a call today at 919-800-0880!