Looking for a new place to live is exciting, stressful, and often overwhelming. It’s easy to view a new space with rose-colored glasses; we get it. The natural light! The original hardwoods! However, while an apartment or loft might look great at a superficial first glance, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty details before you sign on the dotted line.
To avoid frustrations for you and your future landlord, we’ve compiled a list of must-ask items before you sign a lease. Don’t feel bad asking questions about the unit you’re considering. After all, it’s going to be your home for the foreseeable future, so you want to know what you’re getting into. Any credible landlord or leasing agent should be able to answer your questions on the spot or get back to you with an answer promptly if they don’t know right away. Pro tip, if they avoid your questions or seem annoyed, that’s probably a red flag.
1. When do you need to fill the unit?
This is a great starter question to get the conversation going and to shut down any unrealistic expectations immediately. If your landlord needs the unit filled on October 1st, but you can’t move in until November 3rd or vice versa, that’s probably not going to work.
While some landlords might be flexible, chances are, that 1.) They want to get the unit filled as soon as possible, and 2.) There is someone behind you in line who can move in sooner.
2. How much are rent, the deposit, utilities, miscellaneous fees?
When looking for a new place, the overall cost is at the front of your mind. Ask these questions to ensure that you can afford the space and that you don’t end up over-paying.
- Rent: You might feel silly asking about rent and deposit costs since these are typically listed on rental listings, but go ahead and ask. If the price that the landlord states is higher or lower than what was mentioned on the listing, point that out and clarify what the cost will be on the lease.
- Deposit: Confirm the deposit amount and if it is refundable or non-refundable. Be wary of non-refundable deposits, as they are actually illegal in some states.
- Utilities: Don’t get so caught up in rent and deposit costs that you forget to ask about utilities and factor their cost into your budget. If the rent amount alone is at the top of your budget, would you be able to afford utilities, too? You can access an address’s average utility bill in most cities, but go ahead and ask the leasing agent as well.
- Miscellaneous Fees: Is there a pet fee? A garbage collection fee? A parking fee? Consider all of these costs in addition to your monthly rent and don’t get blindsided by extra charges each month.
3. What is your policy on…?
While policies should be discussed clearly in the lease, it’s a good idea to ask before you find yourself staring at a rental contract and wondering what exactly you can and cannot do. Different landlords have policies, and just because your last landlord allowed you to sublet, doesn’t mean that your new one will. Clarifying your landlord’s policies will help you avoid any frustrating situations in the future. Here are some things to ask about:
- Do you have a pet policy?
- What is your policy on subletting?
- What is your late fee policy?
- What is the policy to renewing a lease? Can I switch to month-to-month after my first completed lease?
- What is the guest policy?
- What is the policy for lease termination?
4. What about maintenance?
Life happens, things break, and sometimes it isn’t your fault at all. Ask your landlord or leasing manager about their typical maintenance procedures with questions like:
- How do I submit a maintenance request?
- What is the typical service turnaround time?
- What repairs are covered?
- What is the typical cost for repairs not covered, and will you let me know before I get the bill?
- Will maintenance notify me before entering the unit?
At Springfield Lofts, we welcome any questions you have. We’re proud of our lofts and apartments, and we want to ensure that you’re moving into the space of your dreams. Contact Springfield Lofts to learn more, and view our available properties.