When looking for a new place to house, you may be asking yourself, “Should I rent or buy a house?”

 Both options have pros and cons, but if you’re leaning towards renting there are some things you should be talking to the potential landlord about before putting your name on a lease.

Can I see the property before signing the lease?

If you haven’t actually seen the property yet, make sure to do so before signing a lease. You want to not only see the condition of the place, but take note of any issues there may be and document them. 

You do not want to be held responsible for other people’s damage when it comes time to eventually move out and get your security deposit back. 

How long is the lease term?

Typical leases last for 12 months, but some landlords opt for nine, six, or even month-to-month leases. Clarify, in writing, what the term is.

What’s included in the rent?

Some leases include within the monthly payment utilities. Be sure to outline what you pay for and what the landlord pays for. 

You will also want to know if any amenities are included, such as parking spaces, laundry, storage, or on-site gym or pool access.

Is renter’s insurance required?

Such an insurance policy helps cover your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a covered peril, such as a fire. 

It can also provide liability coverage that helps protect you financially if you’re found legally responsible for someone else’s injuries or damage to their property. 

How much notice must I give before leaving?

A lease should outline how much time is needed to be given to the landlord before vacating the apartment without penalty. This can vary from one to three months.

Is there a penalty if I break my lease?

This is good to know in the event you need to leave the property earlier than anticipated. 

The penalty for breaking a lease can vary depending on state laws as well as the landlord’s rules. Some penalties may include forfeiting your security deposit, paying several months of rent, or paying a percentage of the amount of rent left in your lease term.

When and how is maintenance available?

Some properties have 24-hour maintenance available, while others may have a maintenance man who can be reached only at certain times. 

Make sure you know who to call in case of a maintenance need, and how to escalate things if the need is urgent.

Is the security deposit refundable?

Security deposit laws vary by state, so be sure to check yours and check it against what is outlined in your lease. Typically, a landlord will refund your deposit if you don’t break your lease or if you have not caused excessive damage to the property during your time there.

Is there a guest policy?

Landlords have varying rules when it comes to visitors, guests, and overnight stays. This may include specific parking directions or limits to how long a non-resident can be on the property.