Questions you might ask before signing your rental agreement

freelance writer, Avail

Things you should know before signing a rental contract.

Couple signing rental agreement paperwork
After you've found your perfect apartment, it's tempting to sign the rental agreement and move in. But it's better to take a step back and ask the right landlord-tenant questions before moving forward.

Getting the right answers to your landlord questions will help you avoid fees, miscommunication and headaches down the road. After all, signing a contract is a big deal! Start by asking the following landlord questions:

How is the property managed?
By asking this question, make sure you know how to contact the person in charge of managing your unit in case of problems or if you have questions later on. This will also help you clarify, for instance, if the property manager handles maintenance and the owner handles rent collection, or if the landlord handles both.

What is the length of the rental agreement?
Double-check the duration of your rental agreement. Never assume that your rental agreement is the standard 12-month rental agreement. This will help you plan your time at your tenancy accordingly.

Is renter's insurance required?
This requirement will likely be listed in the rental agreement as it's becoming more common for landlords to require renter's insurance. If they require it, they'll typically ask for proof of insurance. If you need renter's insurance, click here to get a free quote with your nearest State Farm® agent.

How much notice will you give me before entering my unit?
All rental agreements should have a Right to Entry Clause, which tells you the procedure in place for when your landlord needs to enter your unit. An appropriate amount of warning time is about 24 hours, but check the legal requirements in your state. Keep in mind that landlords are required by law to give you notice before entering, unless it's an emergency. Understanding the rules in place helps you know what to expect when a situation arises.

Are pets allowed?
If you have a pet, you need to know if pets are allowed and all of the rules that are in place for pet owners, like pet rent or a pet deposit. Even if you don't have a pet, this is still an important question to ask. If your landlord allows pets, it typically indicates there will be other residents in your building with a pet. If this is an allergy or noise concern for you, then you should find out sooner rather than later.

Are there noise restriction rules?
A common renter complaint is having to deal with noisy neighbors. To find out how your landlord handles noise, ask them if there's a clause in the rental agreement that addresses disruptive behavior. Most rental agreements have a clause that prohibits neighborly conduct and noise past a certain hour.

What should I expect towards the end of my rental agreement? Am I allowed to renew?
Landlords typically offer rental agreement renewals on a case-by-case basis; they may ask if you want to renew around 90 days before your rental agreement expires. Some landlords have an automatic renewal clause, which they should make you aware of in advance, but it's always a good idea to ask.

Sometimes landlords automatically increase rent by a certain amount, in which case you should know the increase before considering a rental agreement renewal. Another option is to ask if they offer month-to-month tenancy upon your rental agreement expiring.

Inquiring about rental agreement renewals may seem like we're getting ahead of ourselves, but it's best to understand your options in advance. Asking all these questions to your landlord will make you feel much more at ease. Knowing what to expect will decrease your chance of being surprised down the road. 

Continue reading the next article to find out questions to ask your landlord about paying rent.

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