5 Renter Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

Without an extensive understanding of the terms of your tenancy, we understand that signing a lease can be a daunting experience!‍ Once you cover the obvious bases such as the move-in date, cost of rent, etc., you’ll want to ask a few more in-depth questions as you go through the move-in process.‍ What are those questions, you ask?‍ Don’t worry! We got you covered. In this post, we’ll walk you through five essential questions to ask property managers before signing a lease to help you make an informed decision on who to rent from.

Are heat, water, and electricity included in the rent, or will I be responsible for paying any of these utilities separately?

Of course, this information will appear on your lease—but it is always good to ask this question so you have a good understanding of what you will be responsible for, and what the property will cover on your behalf! At Paragon Living, for example, suites include free high-speed internet, so you will likely want to cancel your wifi service as you move into a Paragon Living suite.

What is the process for requesting repairs or maintenance? If something breaks or needs to be fixed in your unit, how do you go about requesting maintenance?

It's important to understand this process so that you know how to get issues resolved quickly! As part of the terms of a rental agreement, renters are entitled to safe and habitable living conditions. If you encounter a broken appliance or your apartment is not up to par with these conditions, you are able to seek repairs and/or replacements of faulty items.

Examples of issues could include a leaky faucet, a kitchen appliance that isn’t working, a sliding door that’s come off of its track, or even a burned-out lightbulb! Some potential urgent repairs can include broken pipes or plumbing problems, lack of heat, or compromised building security such as a door that won’t lock or a broken window. At Paragon, we offer a convenient online maintenance request system through our resident portal called RentCafe. This allows both the Property Manager and the resident to track the process of the request so that each party can view updates and track timelines.

Can you make changes to the unit? Are you allowed to paint the walls or make other changes to the unit?

This question is especially important to ask because some property managers may have strict rules and regulations in place that prohibit tenants from making any changes to the unit, while others may be more lenient.

Some managers may allow tenants to paint the walls, as long as the original colour is restored before moving out, while others may prohibit painting altogether. At Paragon Living, professional painters are used, and costs to re-paint as a result of resident painting can far exceed the security deposit. However, we encourage our residents to personalize their spaces! You can check out our previous blog posts to find ideas to spruce up your space without making lasting aesthetic changes to your suite.

Additionally, you may also want to ask about other kinds of changes you're allowed to make to the unit, such as installing hanging shelves, new light fixtures, or any other improvements you are wondering about.

Is there a security/pet deposit required?

It's crucial to understand the financial requirements associated with a lease—for obvious reasons! This includes asking if a security deposit and/or pet deposit is required.

A security deposit is a sum of money that is typically equal to 50% of one month's rent and is collected by the property manager as a form of protection against any damages to the property that may occur during the resident’s occupancy. A pet deposit, on the other hand, is a separate deposit that is collected by a property manager for the purpose of covering any potential damages caused by a resident's pet. This deposit is typically required if the resident plans to bring a pet into the rental unit.

Be sure to understand the amount of deposit required and any terms associated with the deposit, such as if the deposit is forfeitable if the lease is not executed, or partially refundable.

What happens if I move out of my suite before the lease ends?

It's always a good idea to have a clear understanding of the consequences of breaking the terms of a lease before signing one.

If you think there's a possibility that you might have to move out early, we suggest discussing this with your property manager ahead of time as there may be financial penalties or other consequences associated with not fulfilling the terms of the lease.

Another thing to consider is that if you need to move out before the lease ends, you may have a hard time finding a replacement tenant. Property managers must offer the existing resident the option to Assign their lease to another renter, however, the burden to advertise and show your own suite typically falls on the renter - not on the Property Manager.

Many Property Managers will assist in any way possible, but it is important to note that you would still be responsible for paying the rent until you find someone else to take over the remainder of your lease. It’s also important to note there may be assignment fees which are intended to cover the administration costs associated with someone moving out before the end of their term.

Paragon will gladly advertise your suite on our website as available, and we are happy to forward any inquiries we get on to you, to help you get your suite rented as quickly as possible!

Main Takeaway

When searching for your dream rental property, it's essential to make sure you're fully informed before signing on the dotted line.

Asking the right questions before committing to a lease can ensure a smooth and stress-free rental experience. And, let's face it, who doesn't want to start off on the right foot in their new home?

By getting answers to these questions, you'll be able to make an informed decision and have peace of mind knowing that you fully understand the terms of the lease.

Happy apartment hunting!

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