All your rental questions answered
Even the ones you didn’t think to ask?
Renting an apartment is all about trust. The tenants trusting the landlord and management company and the management company or landlord trusting the tenant. There’s never just one side when it comes to a rental agreement.
However, landlords often have the upper hand as they know the building. They know issues other tenants have had and if they’ve been fixed. Landlords are in control of the property, as they should be. They own it. When they rent it out there’re strict guidelines set by the state that all landlords need to follow. The guidelines also explain the rights tenants have and don’t have when it comes to rental property.
If this is your first time renting you want to make sure all of your questions are answered before you sign the agreement.
As a landlord, this helps to know both parties are on the same page allowing you to rent in good faith. Tenants need to be asking the landlords much more than the rent amount, which utilities are included and if they allow pets. We’ll discuss these and many more in this list.
Before even considering to rent, you need to have your finances in order.
At the bare minimum, most rental properties require a security deposit, which is usually equal to one month’s rent, plus the first month’s rent payment before moving in. Be prepared with this amount in advance as there are very few if any, landlords or management companies who will let you move in without full deposit and rent.
When you fill out the rental application, be honest. If you are going to bend the truth about your income, being evicted, having pets when you shouldn’t have or breaking your lease, a landlord may not trust you to be on time with rent. During the application process, there will be a credit check, employment check and references will be called. If this is your first rental, you will need a co-signer such as a parent to vouch for your character and be responsible if you don’t pay. Be aware there is an application fee. The fee varies between $25-$100 depending on how many people are applying and the city you live in.
When looking at rental properties you need to be sure you can afford the rent and any other costs involved such as utilities. To be sure you’ll stay within your budget, don’t apply for any rental unit that costs more than 1/3 of your total take home pay.
As an example, if you make $11.00/hr and you work full time or 80 hours each pay check, you’ll take home around $1440 as a single person with no dependents. For rent purposes, your home should be 1/3 of your take home or no more than $480/month.
This calculation ensures you have enough to pay utilities, other expenses such as food, vehicles, and fuel.
Ask the landlord about the location.
Make sure the neighborhood is safe and you won’t have to deal with loud neighbors. Obviously, your landlord can’t control what happens when you live in the home. They might know if previous tenants left due to noise or safety concerns.
If you are considering a pet, be sure to ask about the policy.
Not all landlords allow pets. If they don’t and you decide to get one, you can be evicted for a lease violation. A pet policy will explain if there are any breeds they don’t accept if you have a pet deposit if you have a monthly pet fee and much more. Don’t make any assumptions when it comes to animals. Be sure to ask.
If you are single and have guests over often, be sure your lease doesn’t have a clause about the length of stay before guests are considered tenants.
Some rental units allow guests for 10 days but by day 11 they will consider them to be a new tenant and require an application be filled out. Having roommates might be a good idea to help with the cost of a rental, but do it the right way. Have your potential roommate apply for tenancy ahead of time and you won’t be violating your lease.
Also, be clear about subletting and what’s allowed or not allowed. Subletting can be a benefit if you travel for school or work. If you are willing to have someone take care of your apartment while you’re gone, this could satisfy the visitor clause. Plus with a person already approved a sublet could save you time and money in finding a new apartment. This could also help if you decide to cancel your rental agreement and need to get it re-rented. Not all owners allow subletting but may with an approved tenant, so know all your options.
Find out who is responsible for maintenance, repairs and damage that may occur.
Tenants often assume the property owner is responsible for all maintenance and repairs. Most do take care of it before a tenant moves in. Read your lease closely and be sure to ask about how repairs are handled. Especially if that changes after you’ve lived there for a few months. Often if the damage or needed repair is due to the tenants or guests’ actions, tenants are responsible to fix it. If the issues were something out of the tenant’s control, most landlords will bring in the right professionals to fix it. Your lease should have it laid out but if not, be sure to ask.
Renting a home is different from renting an apartment. When you live in a neighborhood you need to follow the neighborhood rules. Things you may not consider like who does the lawn and snow maintenance. If there are any noise policies for the neighborhood or parking during the winter months.
Before signing a lease, make sure you can fulfill all the requirements.
If you don’t own lawn or snow care equipment, ask your landlord to provide them. If you have scheduling conflicts to maintain the property regularly, ask if you could pay to have them taken care of. Most cities have ordinances stating there is quiet time after 10 pm and no loud noise before 7 am. Check with your landlord to make sure a simple get together in the backyard is not going to cause an issue with the local authorities.
The bottom line when renting, if you don’t know…ask.
Your landlord is required to answer questions to the best of their ability. If at any point in the discussion, you feel you can’t trust the property owner, don’t rent from them. In reverse, be honest and respectful of the property. Landlords are providing a service. They have probably dealt with dishonest people a time to two in the past. Which means they may not be as forthright with extra information about the property. They aren’t required to tell you every detail if it doesn’t pertain to your safety during your tenancy. Be sure to ask if there is something specific you want to know.
As a property management company in Appleton, Day Property Management has experts able to help you navigate the rental process. Contact them today to get your questions answered. You can reach them at 920-969-0626 or fill out their contact form.