Looking to move? Things to ask before renting a house

Any tips on renting a house for the first time? What kinds of questions should I ask? What potential hidden expenses may come up? My husband and I have been apartment dwellers for 8+ years, and rent in our area is skyrocketing. Thanks!

That’s a great question. There are many pros and cons to renting, you can save a lot of money, you aren’t on the hook to fix home repairs and you will save money on taxes and insurance. However, you need to enter into any lease agreement with thought and knowledge. 

Renting a house over an apartment will provide you with a little bit more privacy and possibly room than an apartment might, but often they are not owned and managed by companies and it’s left to an individual to manage. 

So here are a few things you might want to ask before signing a lease. 

How old is the roof?

You don't want to get in and then have a leak that can damage your belongings. 

Utility sticker shock? 

Find out how much the utilities were over the past few months. Our old rental was very expensive to heat and cool and when we moved out the landlord called because the new renters had sticker shock. You could try to call the local electric company, but they won’t always give you the information. So ask the landlord ahead of time if he knows. 

Check out the appliances.

Is there a fridge? Washer and dryer? Dishwasher? Etc. What appliances do you need and are they included in the rental. 

Also, see if you can determine how old they are or when they were last replaced. Ask if the items were to break, whether or not they would be replaced or fixed.  

Will pest control be included in your rent?

You think you’ve found a nice place to live, only to find out there are critters in the basement, attic or lurking in the carpet. Find out if pest control is something you’re going to have to pay for with your own dime. 

Will the landlord be able to enter your home without your knowledge?

I have a friend who owns several rental homes. She said part of the rental agreement states she can enter the homes once a month  to replace the air conditioner filters. This gives her an opportunity to check up on her properties. 

Also, when were the locks last changed? You don’t want a former tenant having access to your home. 

Finishing touches? 

When were the walls last painted, the carpets replaced and the home thoroughly cleaned. 

Deposit 411

Will you get your deposit back in full as long as there is no damage of is there a surcharge? And is there a separate cleaning deposit? 

HOA Drama

If you're renting in a subdivision, who is responsible for HOA fees. Will that be included in your rent or covered by your landlord? Will you have to attend HOA meetings.

What about you? What would you ask?