Whether you are an experienced renter or choosing your first post-graduate apartment, signing a lease can be a stressful and confusing process. You may find yourself wondering if you are asking the right questions. So what exactly are “the right questions?” I asked Certified Apartment Property Supervisor and Vice President of TradeMark Residential Judy Wade. She offered the four questions renters should be asking, and two they can’t get answered.
- What is your pet policy?
Most renters are aware that when leasing an apartment as a pet owner, some pet fee, pet deposit or a combination of both will apply but Wade says renters often fail to ask about pet restrictions. For example, does the community or rental home have a pet weight limit? Many communities and landlords will not allow animals over 45 pounds while others are limited to 20 pounds or less. So before expecting to share an apartment with your human-sized Mastiff, be sure and ask about any pet size restrictions.
Wade also advises renters to inquire about what kinds of pets are allowed. Some rental properties may welcome dogs and cats but not allow other animals. Even more common are breed restrictions. Rental properties often prohibit certain dog breeds. Renters should be sure to ask if their specific pet will be permitted.
- What additional fees can I expect to pay upon leasing?
Monthly pest control fee? Mandatory valet trash fee, parking fee? View upcharge? One common mistake renters make is failing to inquire about fees. Most renters expect an initial application fee and perhaps an administrative fee but many are less familiar with additional fees. Renters should be sure and ask for explanations of any and all fees they may be asked to pay upon leasing.
- What is an estimate of my average monthly utility costs?
Most renters know to ask what if any utilities are included in their monthly rent. However, Wade suggests that renters ask their leasing consultant or potential landlord for an estimation of monthly utility costs. Maybe the bill goes up significantly in the winter. Maybe the average bill will be lower than budgeted for, allowing the renter to afford to pay more in monthly rent.
- What is there to do around here?
Don’t know much about the neighborhood? Wondering if there’s a good Chinese takeout place nearby? These are excellent questions to ask a leasing consultant or potential landlord. Wade says, “Future residents may not know there’s a great restaurant across the street or a bar around the corner.“ Asking questions about the proximity and convenience to establishments that may be important to you can help renters when deciding where to sign a lease.