Questions to Ask Before Signing a Rental Agreement

Starting a New Lease

Whether you are looking to rent a house, apartment or town home, there are important things you should ask before scribbling your John Hancock and submitting a security deposit. If this is your first time signing a rental agreement, it can be especially exciting and cause otherwise important questions to slip your mind. Filling out paperwork and being deemed a responsible tenant is just the first step. Stay excited! Just sign your agreement after you read your full paperwork and have the answers to the following questions.

How Much Is Rent and How Do I Submit It?

At this point, you likely know how much to expect in rent every month. But do you the form in which you’re actually supposed to pay it? Be sure there is no confusion about the form of payment, address, or person you are sending your rent to. Sometimes you may be able to choose a preferred method, like paying online versus a check. Also, ask if the space is rent controlled or if you should expect a monthly increase if you decide to renew the lease.

Are Utilities Included?

If they are, great. If only some utilities are included and others aren’t, ask which ones you are personally responsible for. If it is your responsibility to get electricity, water, Internet or gas turned on, make sure you do so prior to your move in date. Ask the renter if they already have a relationship with any providers and could make any recommendations to make this process easier and more timely.

What If My Rent is Late?

It is common for landlords to provide a 3-5 day grace period from the date your rent is due before considering it “late.” Ask what the grace period is (or if there is one) and what penalties may ensue if you don’t submit on time.

What if I Need to Break My Lease?

You might be going into this with 100% commitment and intent to stay in this space for the leasing period (be it 6, 12, 24 months or more). But let’s be honest – life throws you curveballs when you least expect it. Your employment, relationship, or family ties could impact your desire or ability to stay in the space. Ask what kind of notice is necessary in the event that you need to break the lease, if subletting is an option, and what kind of financial penalties may be involved.

Can I Paint?!

It’s natural to want to make personal changes to the space you are renting. Ask the landlord if they mind things as major as a new paint color or as minor as nails in the walls to hang paintings or photos. If you make changes without asking, it may cost you a portion of your security deposit or a cover up hassle later. Ask for specific examples of instances that might cost you your security deposit.

How Do I Contact Maintenance?

One of the joys of being a renter as opposed to a homeowner is the ability to call someone else to fix property problems for you. If you have problems with your heat, AC, water, windows, doors, etc. – you need to know who to contact and how to contact them 24/7. Ask how to submit a maintenance request and how long it typically takes for problems (major or minor) to be handled.

Is There Documentation of Current Damages?

Before you sign your rental agreement, ask to do a walk-through with your landlord. Make sure there is written documentation of any damages to the current state of the property so you don’t later get blamed for scratches, holes, or smudges that were there before you moved in.

Signing a Rental Agreement with Clagett Enterprises

At Clagett Enterprises, we have extensive experience serving the greater Frederick area and Western Maryland, since 1987. Our team is a full-service real estate company that’s ready to help you with your real estate needs. Speak with a Clagett professional at 301-665-6009, or request a proposal for preventive maintenance here.


This entry was posted on Saturday, December 12th, 2015 at 2:01 am. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.