19 Compelling Questions to Ask a Landlord Before You Sign

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Finding the perfect apartment is a difficult process, and renters may be tempted to sign on to the first place that looks decent. However, you will come to regret rushing into a lease when you discover that the apartment is filthy from the last tenant and your landlord doesn’t let you play music. In order to help you make the right choice, we’ve compiled 19 questions to ask a landlord before you sign the lease. These questions will help you paint a better picture of what it’s going to be like to live in this space ahead of time and make sure it’s a good fit for you.

And don’t worry about annoying your potential new landlord with too many questions – most will be glad that you’re being responsible and care so much about the unit. Landlords, you should also take note of the questions below so you can know what to prepare for if a rental applicant does need you to clarify beyond the information provided in the original listing.

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19 Questions to Ask a Landlord

1. Are utilities included with rent? If so, which ones?

2. Would you consider discounted rent if I signed on for a longer lease?

3. Am I able to pay rent online?

4. Will you have the unit cleaned before I move in?

illustration of cleaning tools such as soap bucket and spray

5. Am I able to customize the unit with paint, wall hangings, etc.?

6. What is your policy when it comes to overnight guests?

7. How much notice will you give before entering the unit?

8. Who takes care of maintenance? Will I be able to have emergency issues taken care of promptly?

9. Are there any non-refundable fees I should be aware of?

illustration of paper showing landlord-tenant laws

10. What happens if I need to break the lease early?

11. Would you allow subletters?

12. What is your late fee policy?

13. Is parking provided with the unit? If not, how manageable is street parking in the area?

14. Is there a potential for renewing the lease after the current term is finished?

15. Will rent increase during the lease term or is it a fixed rate?

16. Do you require renters’ insurance? If so, which level of coverage?

illustration of house representing renters' insurance

17. If you allow pets, what is your pet fee structure?

18. What is the garbage and recycling situation?

19. Describe your perfect tenant.

illustration of tenant dancing to music

Questions You Probably Don’t Need to Ask Your Potential Landlord

Asking for detailed clarification like the questions above is one thing, but you certainly will annoy your potential landlord if you ask them about information that is readily available to you. Basic information about the unit will be provided in the rental listing, such as:

  • How much is rent?
  • Is A/C included?
  • Do you allow pets?

Additionally, you can find out a lot about the unit and neighborhood yourself by either visiting it in person, or if you’re renting remotely, by doing a quick search with Google Maps and streetview. This is a great way to figure out if the area is a good fit for you without having to ask your prospective landlord. You’ll be able to identify the nearest grocery stores, train and bus stations, parks, etc.

Questions You’re Better Off Researching On Your Own

illustrations of points not to ask your landlord

When it comes down to it, there are some questions you should take into your own hands. For certain sensitive issues, some landlords either won’t, or legally can’t, answer your questions. For example, landlords typically aren’t able to comment on things like crime rate and demographics. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there for tenants to do their own research.

  • If you’re wondering about the safety of your neighborhood, check out AreaVibes neighborhood crime ratings.
  • If you want to make sure there’s not going to be construction nearby, you can research city-specific construction reporting sites. For example, here is one for New York City.
  • To find out if the unit has any pest or maintenance problems, research the address on RentLogic and make sure it has at least a C rating.

By keeping these questions to ask a landlord in mind, tenants and their prospective landlords can get off to a good start by communicating expectations clearly and being honest about what both parties need. Landlords looking to vet potential tenants should be sure to check out TurboTenant’s tenant screening services.

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