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7 Questions Every First-Time Renter Needs to Ask Their Landlord

Top Questions to Ask Before Renting a House

Finding a new place to live can be exciting, but before finalizing anything don’t forget to ask these questions before renting a house.

If you’re looking for a home to rent, you’re not alone! In fact, more Americans are renting their house or apartment than at any other time in the last 50 years.

Tips for renting a house or apartment

There are many reasons why homeownership is down and renting numbers are on the rise, including financial reasons and the ability to up and move more easily without the commitment.

Whatever your reason for renting, there are some questions to ask before renting a house that you should be aware of. Let’s discuss some of them here:

1. Questions to Ask Before Renting a House – “What’s Included With the Rent?”

One of the very first questions to ask before renting a house is, “what’s included with the rent?”. Each landlord is different and some might include the utilities such as the sewer, water, and trash expenses, while others leave those up to you to handle. Some landlords include grounds maintenance with the cost of rent and others don’t. 

Make sure you ask this upfront so you can plan for any other expenses when deciding if it’s a place you can afford to live.

Though the cost of the rent itself might fall within your budget, if you have to add on a significant cost for utilities, cable, internet, grounds maintenance, and even furniture, it may end up outside your ability to afford it all. 

2. Will the Rent Remain the Same?

An important follow-up question to ask your landlord before signing a contract is, “will you ever increase the rent while I’m a tenant?”

In some situations, a landlord has plans to raise the cost of the rent a little each year when you renew your lease. Make sure you read the entire lease thoroughly and understand how much you can expect the rent to increase, if at all. 

Most landlords require the first, and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit before they’ll hand over the keys. This can be a hefty payment right up front, so some people turn to guaranteed signature loans to cover the expense. 

3. When and How Is Rent Paid?

Some landlords collect rent at the first of the month and give no leeway for late payments. Others will accept a rent payment anytime within the first week of each month.

Depending on your landlord, you might be able to pay in any number of ways including through an online system, with cash, or via check, while others are more old-fashioned and require that their tenants turn a check into the office or mail it to them directly. 

Ask your landlord how you pay rent, and more importantly, when. You want to know upfront if they charge late fees and how much those fees are per day.

Ask about any other consequences for late or missed payments. Some landlords are much stricter than others, and it’s best to know what you’re dealing with. 

4. Is Renter’s Insurance a Requirement?

Many landlords require renters insurance these days as a way to protect not only the tenants’ belongings, but themselves as well. Renters insurance covers property damage in the event of an unexpected accident such as a fire or theft.

When you have renter’s insurance, you’re not responsible for paying for all your lost property and the landlord isn’t held financially responsible for the accident. 

Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, it’s a good idea to look into getting renter’s insurance. It generally only costs a few dollars per month. Make sure to ask your landlord if they require it and if they have any recommendations for a provider. 

5. How Are Repairs Handled?

One of the best things about renting is that the landlord is generally responsible for making any repairs, which lets you off the hook for trying to get something fixed.

One of the questions to ask before renting a house is “how do you handle repairs?” Ask how quickly you can expect repairs to be made once you’ve reported them, and if the landlord schedules the appointments with a repair person or if you’ll be expected to do so. 

6. What Changes Can I Make to the Home?

It’s really important that you’re clear about what changes you’re allowed to make to the home with the landlord’s permission. Your landlord might not allow any paint on the walls, for example.

Some landlords are really particular about holes being put in the walls without charging you for it. Don’t plant anything in the yard or garden without running it by your landlord first. You might find that your landlord is fine with the changes you want to make, but be certain before moving forward. 

7. Are Pets Allowed?

If you’re a pet owner, you’re used to keeping an eye out for places that welcome your best buddy. Keep in mind that when you’re looking for a house or apartment to rent, that though some buildings allow pets, there’s usually a pet deposit of some kind required. There may also be an extra fee each month associated with having a pet. 

Also, some landlords put restrictions on what kind of pet or what breed of dog they’ll allow, so be sure to ask about that as well before you fall for a place that won’t work out for your four-legged friend. 

Find Other Helpful Home Tips

You’ve just learned some of the questions to ask before renting a house, now check out some of our other articles about taking care of your place once you’re all moved in!

We’ve got all kinds of content for renters and home buyers alike, and we update regularly, so be sure to check back often!

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