Things to ask your future landlord before you rent an apartment

Things to ask your future landlord before you rent an apartment

When looking for an apartment, prepare a list of essential things to ask your future landlord. If you are not hiring residential movers NYC and moving for the first time, it is likely that you are already familiar with those questions. Being well-prepared for the first appointment with your future landlord, you can avoid any possible misunderstanding or unpleasant surprise. Right questions can help you make the right decision, so think about your expectations and requests and compare them with those of your possible landlord.

What are the most important things to ask your future landlord?

Question words
Asking the right questions, you will find out everything you need to know about the apartment and the neighborhood

The rent

Although it might be in the ad, make sure to confirm the exact rental price. Your future landlord needs to be specific about the rental price, explain which services and utilities are included in the price and mention some possible exceptions or malfunctions.

Utilities like hydro, heat, parking, water and garbage pick up should be within the rental price. But it’s not always the case. The amount of the security deposit is also a factor that will affect your decision. So make sure that it is refundable once you decide to leave the apartment.


Make sure to get clear information about how much you will have to pay extra for utilities. You can either get a more expensive offer which includes utility fees or a less expensive one which includes only the rental fee. The landlord should be able to give you the exact information regarding this matter in order for you to get a clear picture of your monthly expenses. Be informed whether the bills and taxes are covered or not.


Are there all the appliances you need? Are all of them working properly? Most apartments are equipped with some basic appliances like washing machine, fridge, stove, while some other appliances like microwave or dryer are not likely to be provided. If there is enough space in the apartment, you can bring your own, too. And if not, you can always put your extras in storage Brooklyn. All of that is the reason why this is one of the things to ask your future landlord.

Terms of the lease

Some landlords will offer a month-to-month lease agreement, but a year lease is more common. Also, longer lease agreements might include a cheaper rental price. Both tenants and landlords agree to sign a fixed-term lease rather than a month-to-month agreement. In case your landlord worries that your income won’t cover the monthly costs, he/she may request a guarantor, so you can have a friend or relative sign the contract for you. Also, breaking the lease will cause the penalty from the landlord’s end.


Can you keep pets in the apartment? Apartments in New York City are mostly pet-friendly, but it is quite possible that landlords request monthly pet rent on top of your rental price. The other option is that there is an extra security deposit for the pets, which is a better option since you might get that money back when you move out if everything’s all right.

Decoration of the apartment

Are you free to decorate the apartment in any way you want? Can you paint the walls, color some pieces of furniture and do some slight modifications? Most contracts point out that when you are moving out, the apartment should be in the same condition as it was when you moved in.

Man painting the room
If you are planning to redecorate your future apartment, that is definitely one of the most important things to ask your future landlord

Other important things to ask your future landlord

  • Maintenance – Who is responsible for the maintenance and who is paying for it?
  • Pests – This is not a pleasant topic, but it is very important for you to know if there have been some pest problems and about the way to deal with them.
  • Rental agent – If you are moving to NYC, you will most probably have to hire an agent who will help you find a proper apartment. This service may cost you one month’s rent or even more.
  • Parking place – Is there a parking place for the rental unit and how much does it cost? If you own a car, that’s one of the major things to ask your future landlord.
  • Locks – All the locks in the apartment should be changed, not redistributed. Ask your landlord to put the new ones in order to improve your safety.

20 questions that each tenant should ask

It is not always easy to come up with the right way to ask about all the things you need to. Here are some of the questions that can be helpful to ask your future landlord:

1. Can you clarify the rent, deposits and the cost of utilities?

If you looked at an outdated listing with a higher price, the landlord should indicate the current price so that you do not overpay. If the landlord tells you a higher price than the price that was announced, just point out the discrepancy and you should get a lower price. The cost of utilities will greatly affect the total cost of living in the block. Without this variable, you won’t know if you can afford this place until it is too late.

2. Are there any deposits or non-refundable commissions, and why are they needed?

Although some state laws prohibit this practice, some landlords have a non-refundable rental deposit. At the very least, you will know what to expect before signing a lease. At best, you can go home, study landlord-tenant laws, and determine if the landlord is even allowed to request non-refundable deposits or fees.

3. What are your application process and selection criteria?

Instead of guessing, encourage landlords to lay out the entire verification process, step by step. This will help you set your own expectations if you decide to apply. Clarify any applications or selection fees that he mentions (or doesn’t mention). If a credit report is required, ask if it is a hard or soft inquiry. If the landlord does not know, this could damage your credit.

4. How soon are you expecting to fill the place?

This is one of the great things to ask your future landlord at the beginning of your conversation. If you are not ready to move before June 1, but the landlord is looking for a tenant who starts on May 1, then this probably will not work. If the arrival dates do not match, it is a waste of time, so find out in advance.

5. What is your ideal rental period?

If the landlord is looking for a two-year lease, and you can only allocate one year, it does not matter how good the apartment is.

House keys in hands
When it comes to things to ask your future landlord before you take the keys, the rental period is one of the crucial ones

6. What payment methods do you accept for rent?

Homeowners can specify which forms of payments they will accept. But the best landlords make it easy for the tenant to pay. Owners who accept cash only should be avoided at all costs. Online payments are the best way to pay rent because it provides automation, security, and convenience for the tenant and landlord.

7. How much interest did you have in this apartment?

If the landlord says the interest was low, then you should try to find out why. Perhaps the list did not include photographs, or perhaps the price was too high. If the landlord is lying in your face, you will probably notice dishonesty and realize that he is not trustworthy. Leave immediately.

8. What is your late payment policy?

Late fees are usually permitted in each state but must be fair within the state limits. Any landlord who says “just pay when you can” doesn’t comply with his own lease and you should avoid them. If you have irregular, income, then this is one of the most essential things to ask your future landlord.

9. What is your sublease policy?

A wise landlord will understand that the tenant will sometimes have to leave. And he will respond by providing a tenant the right to sublease. In general, if the rental does not prohibit subleasing or provides for exclusive accommodation, then you can sublease. A landlord may require sub-tenants to meet standard selection criteria and may refuse applications that don’t meet criteria.

10. Do you allow early termination of the lease, and if so, what are the fees?

Like the issue of the sublease, sometimes the tenant needs to terminate the lease. Life happens. A smart landlord will plan such an opportunity by providing a clause on the early termination of the lease. Often the fee is the rent for two or three months. But sometimes the tenant who violates the lease may need to continue to pay the rent until the landlord finds a new tenant. Try to avoid landlords who say that you cannot break the lease for any reason. Most states require the landlord to reduce damage to the tenant in a rental cancellation situation by trying to re-rent the apartment.

11. Describe your ideal tenant?

If the landlord responds by saying, “I rent only single white women, without children, a high-paying job”, then the landlord is obviously discriminatory and you should expect him/her to be unfair in other aspects of the rent. Even if the landlord answers accordingly, this question will help you determine if you are what the landlord is looking for.

12. What is your pet policy and do you require a pet fee or a deposit?

There are many landlords who simply advertise their vacancies as “pets are not allowed”, and then handle exceptions on a case-by-case basis. And if you are moving with your pets, that can be really important information. If they have a pet policy, be sure to ask about any prohibited breeds, pet deposits, monthly payments, and other conditions.

Cat sleeping
If you have furry friends, the pet policy is one of the main things to ask your future landlord

13. Will I be able to extend the lease if I want?

Some landlords know that they plan to sell the property or move into it themselves at the end of the lease term, so they are unlikely to extend it. There are not many worse troubles than having to move twice in a year.

14. What is the parking situation?

High-density areas usually have permits and licensing requirements that the landlord must be able to describe. If you and your roommates have several cars, make sure that you all fit and will be able to meet state requirements. If there is no parking available, ask about other transportation options. Then see for yourself. Sometimes “down the street” means a 15-minute walk.

15. What is your guest policy?

Some landlords go crazy and threaten eviction when a girlfriend or boyfriend is in the house “too much”. It is advisable to discuss the expectations in advance and ask the landlord to include them in the lease. And then you should obey the rules if you want to avoid getting evicted.

16. What is the procedure for applying for maintenance, and who usually performs repairs?

If the landlord does not have a definite answer, then they are likely to do poorly with their property and may ignore your requests. You want to rent only from an active landlord who will make repairs in a timely manner. The condition of the property should give you some clues about the landlord’s service habits.

17. How many notifications do you usually give before you or your representative appears in the property?

Most states provide a notice that is required before the homeowner can enter the premises, usually 24 hours in advance. Prepare yourself by examining your state’s requirements before talking to your landlord. If the landlord does not know what the required notice is, or clearly ignores it, then “proper notice” will be the least of your problems.

18. What furniture or appliances are included?

In some states, tenants usually provide their own appliances. In many other states, equipment is provided by the landlord. If the apartment has furniture, make sure that you know exactly which belongs to the landlord and which to the current tenant.

19. What is the situation with a crime in the neighborhood, and has this property been subjected to any break-in, theft or attack?

It’s hard to see if the landlord is hiding something in this regard, but at least you will know their opinion about the area. And if you have your doubts, you can always check with the police and search through public records.

20. Would you live here?

If when you ask this question, the owner’s eyes light up with excitement, you will realize that you have found a great place. And if the landlord looks away, then the unit probably has other hidden problems, such as cockroaches, noise problems, poor plumbing, or just a poor location.

Front door
If the landlord does not want to live there, do your best to find out why

When planning to rent a property, it is extremely important that you find out everything. That’s why you need to pay attention to the things to ask your future landlord. The answers to those questions should help you decide whether that apartment is for you or not.

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