Top 10 questions to ask while renting a house

If buying a house is a big decision, finding a house for rent is not in any way smaller. Finding the right apartment to rent is a big decision as it affects your life and lifestyle. It affects everything from your commuting time to where you eat and sleep to where you shop for groceries and whether you can easily host guests.

Before you finally make up your mind about the area, make sure you have asked the right questions before renting. Doing your homework is very important because after you have signed a lease, it may become difficult to cancel it. Here is a set of questions that you should ask when looking for an apartment to rent:

Questions to ask before you rent

What are the lease terms?

home loan property documentsYou as a renter should be thoroughly aware of the lease, from where it begins to where it ends. The very first question to ask before renting an apartment is to be very sure about the terms and conditions mentioned in the lease agreement. If you don’t understand some aspect or are unsure about something don’t hesitate to ask. Make sure there is no communication gap between you and the landlord.

“Tenants can ask for Title of the property and necessary documents such as maintenance receipts, electricity bill, etc. If it is a mortgaged property and there is a default in loan or a NOC is required from the bank before renting out the property, the tenant may face a tricky situation,” says Vipul Shah, realtor.

“Find out how much the landlord is charging as security deposit. Be clear about how this amount will be adjusted when you leave. Generally, it is adjusted in the last two months. Do not give major part of the amount in cash as you would not be able to show proof of this amount in case of a litigation,” adds Shah.

Some other things to know are how frequently will the rent go up, how much is the advance rent amount, how much of the security amount you will get as refund when , you vacate the flat and what is the landlord’s late rent policy? Generally, the amount of monthly rent goes up by 10 percent or as specified in the rental agreement. Make sure you know how much you will be paying next year if you continue to stay in the apartment. Finally, ask about the restrictions on timings, guest entry, pet policy and meals (no non-veg) policy.

What is included in the rent?

Some amenities in the flat may be covered in the monthly rent, while others may not be. Ask the landlord before signing the lease agreement, if charges for cable, gas and electric connections are covered. Some landlords charge a fixed amount for electricity, while some get a separate metre in stalled. Most of the times, the land lord pays for water and sewer charges to the authority.

Can I decorate my apartment?

Some landlords don’t allow the tenants to even put a nail in the walls.Ask the landlord if you can hang things on the walls? Are you allowed to paint the walls as you want or change the tiles? If he refuses to allow you to hang things on the wall, you can assure him by promising to patch up the wall holes and paint them back to the original colour before you leave.

Maintenance policy

Mostly the tenants need to pay the maintenance amount to the resident welfare associations or management bodies of gated communities. So as to not enter in any conflict later, ask the landlord who will pay the extra maintenance cost, in addition to the monthly rent. “Find out what happens in the scenario of major repairs, such as seepage or other civil works. Make sure the landlord bears the cost?“ points out Shah.

Emergency repairs

A broken washbasin, failed electricity meter, a dysfunctional switch who would bear the cost for these? The tenant or the landlord? In most of the rent agreements, tenants are the other party as the property belongs to the landlord.

Guest policy

Guest policy varies from landlords to accommodation type and even to the gender of the tenant. Some landlords are casual about guests and don’t bother much if they get the monthly rental on time.

In independent houses or flats, guests and visitors are not an issue, but in spaces where the landlord himself lives, there might be some restrictions. Again, male tenants get more leverages on guests than women. “Note the society or building norms about guests and pets as this is where even the landlord’s permission would not be of merit,” says Shah.

Safety and security

Ask the landlord what safety measures the property has, including a watchman, double door lock or a CCTV camera. You can also ask or research about the neighbourhood’s safety quotient is it a relatively safe area or not?

Background of the landlord

Find out the reputation of the land lord in the area. Is he known to be a nit-picker or a gentle adjusting fellow? Ask the neighbours, the watchman of the building, the local grocery shop for more information on the person.

Parking facility

Ask the landlord if the parking facility is covered in your monthly rent. Generally in a gated community, tenants get to enjoy the parking space allotted to the landlord. In independent houses, the parking spaces are taken on first come first get basis.
Social infrastructure

Can you just walk for a few metres to get groceries or take your car out each time? Sometimes tenants, to pay a lesser rental amount opt to live in a developing area which is weak in terms of social fabric.

Even if you opt for a developing area to lower your rental expense, be sure that essential commodities of daily use are easily accessible. Be clear on what you want and what the landlord expects. As a tenant you should question the landlord before finalising on a house. The rule of the thumb is Ask, ask, ask!

Source: Preeti Sharma, Times Property, Magicbricks Bureau/ Chennai