8 Financial Questions to Ask the Landlord Before Renting an Apartment

Essential Things You Need to Know Before Signing a Lease

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If you've hunted for a lot of apartments and each time you look for a new rental, you should make a list of all the things you need to know in order to make the right decision. These questions for the landlord also help in comparing apartments so you can determine which one is best suited to your needs and whether you can you afford it

1. How much is the rent?

While this is an obvious question to ask, you'd be surprised how many people forget to ask the landlord to confirm the rental price.

Sometimes, in particular with apartment complexes, the posted rental rate is not necessarily the rate for the apartment that is being shown. Ask the landlord to be clear about the rent and that the price holds for the terms of the lease and also how much they expect to raise the rent after the lease is up so you know you can afford it.

2. What is included in the rent?

It's a good idea to find out how much extra you'll be paying per month for utilities. This way, you can compare between a more expensive rental that might include utilities with a less expensive one that doesn't. If the landlord isn't certain, ask them to find out. They should have the most recent costs based on past renters. 

3. What are the terms of the lease?

Some landlords will offer cheaper rent for a longer lease agreement while others may want you to agree to a month-to-month rental. You should be hesitant about agreeing to a month-to-month as often that could mean the landlord is looking to sell and wants to be able to get rid of a tenant with only a months' notice.

It also enables the landlord to raise the rent at any time if you're not locked into a lease agreement. Also know that it's much more common to first sign a year lease, then go month-to-month once that lease has expired.

4. Are appliances provided? If so, which ones?

Most apartments I've rented include appliances in the rental fee: stove, fridge, dishwasher.

These are the most common types that are provided, while appliances such as microwaves or a washer and dryer are less likely to be included. If no washer or dryer are included, ask if there are hook-ups so you can install your own. Make sure those appliances are listed on your lease agreement and also how well they're working. 

5. Are pets allowed and is there an extra fee?

It's quite common now for apartments that are pet friendly to charge an extra "pet rent" per month. Some landlords may opt instead to charge you an extra security deposit for the pets. If you can negotiate between paying pet rent and an extra security deposit, take the latter option since you can potentially receive that money back when you move out if your apartment is left in good condition.

6. How much is needed to secure the apartment?

Before you sign a lease, ask how much is required upfront. Most rentals will ask for the first month's rent and a security deposit while others will ask for first and last month's rent.

It's a good idea to check your state's rules regarding rentals and requirements before you start your apartment search. Some states have very specific rules around what a landlord can charge a tenant upon signing a lease.

7. Are there any additional fees? 

It's always good to ask this final question just to be certain that no other fees will come back to haunt you such as additional parking fees or HOA fees (if you're renting a condo or townhouse from the owners).