Congratulations! You’re ready to find your own place! Renting your first home or apartment is exciting, but since you may have never done it before, you might wonder how to choose a place where you’ll be happy. Asking your landlord these 18 questions can help you make sure this is the right place for you.
1. What is included in the rental cost? Are parking and utilities included? (such as heat, water, sewer, garbage and cable). Note: you may be able to negotiate having these included or upgraded. Lease details typically aren’t set in stone; landlords often have some flexibility.
2. Are utilities included? If utilities aren’t included, how much do they cost, on average?
3. Is there a grace period for the rent due date?
4. What are the late charges for missing the rent due date?
5. Does the lease automatically renew?
6. What is the lease term? And if you want to keep renting when your lease is up, will you need to commit to another full lease term or will you be able to rent month to month?
7. How much is the security deposit, and when will you get it back?
8. What happens to the security deposit if you move out before the end of the lease?
9. What are the move-out costs? Will you have to pay for professional cleaning when you move out?
10. What is the pet policy?
11. Is the pet deposit a flat fee or a month-to-month charge? Is it refundable? Even if you don’t have a pet, you may want to find out whether your guests can bring a pet for a visit.
12. If you’re renting a single-family home or townhouse, who is responsible for yard care such as mowing grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow? If you’re willing to be responsible for yard care, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in your rent.
13. How quickly will your landlord respond to maintenance and repair requests?
14. What will you be responsible for fixing?
15. Are there restrictions on painting the walls, hanging pictures, adding lighting, etc.?
16. Will your lifestyle be compatible with your neighbors’? It’s best to visit the property at different hours of the day to judge noise levels, cooking odors and other potential irritants. Chat with the neighbors and ask about loud parties or other disturbances.
17. Is smoking allowed on the property? If so, where? If you’re not a smoker, find out how smoking in other units, if it’s allowed, could affect you.
18. If you’re looking at a condo or apartment, can you tour the actual unit you’ll rent, not just one with the same layout? You’ll be able to notice details like whether it’s next to a noisy ventilation unit or right above the dumpsters.
Find Support as You Head Out on Your Own
Renting a place to live is just one of the big financial responsibilities you'll face when starting out on your own. It’s comforting to know that Navy Federal is here to help. Navy Federal's savings accounts and checking accounts, along with online banking and mobile banking services,* can help you keep track of your finances.
*Message and data rates apply. Visit navyfederal.org for more information.