Questions to ask a landlord

Before signing a lease, it’s important to ask the landlord or rental company questions about the unit. We have outlined some potential questions below.

  • What exterior lighting exists?
    • Street lights?
    • Porch lights?
    • Garage/alley?
  • Who has access to the basement?
    • Is it locked?
    • Is the storage area secure?
  • If the rental unit is on the first floor, are there bars on the windows or extra security measures?
  • Is the garage/parking secure?
  • Do all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work?
    • How many are there?
    • How often are the batteries changed?
  • Are there window locks on all windows?
    • Do they all work?
  • Are there screens and storm windows on all windows?
    • Are window coverings included?
  • Will the door/key locks be changed before I move in?
  • Is there a locked lobby (if applicable)?
  • Are there deadbolts on all doors?
    • Do they all work?
    • Do the bolts stick out at least one inch?
  • Are there fire extinguishers?
    • When are they charged?
  • Are there sprinklers?
  • Will you feel safe in the rental?
  • Will you feel safe while walking to and from classes during the day and at night?
  • How is the cell phone reception in the unit?
    • Can you send and receive calls and texts?
  • Are appliances included?
    • Do all of the appliances work?
  • Are window coverings included?
  • Is there a washer and dryer?
  • Is the electrical wiring up to code?
  • Do all outlets work?
  • Do the lights work in all the rooms?
  • Does the plumbing work? Check all faucets and showers, and flush all toilets.
  • What is the water pressure like?
    • How is the water temperature?
  • Do the fans in the bathrooms work?
  • How is the unit heated?
    • Do we have our own thermostat?
  • How close is the nearest:
    • Post Office?
    • Grocery Store?
    • Bank/ATM?
    • Laundromat?
  • When is garbage day?
  • When is recycling day?
  • Is this rental unit handicapped accessible?
    • Is there a ramp?
    • Is there an elevator in the building?
  • How many entrances to the rental unit exist?
    • *There must be at least 2 to be a legal unit.*
  • Can I paint?
    • If I paint, do I have to paint it back?
  • Have you had previous noise complaints?
  • Who do I contact if noise becomes a problem?
  • How much is the monthly rent?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • Do you require 60 days notice for non-renewal of my lease?
  • Are there more students or long-term residents living in the building/area?
  • What is the manager’s contact information?
    • Email
    • Phone
  • Are there any items that need to be repaired or replaced?
  • What is the maintenance contact information?
  • How long does maintenance usually take?

*Consider asking the current tenants about their experiences with the owner or management. Are they pleasant and professional? Do they respond quickly to maintenance and repair requests?

  • Always take a friend – never tour a rental unit alone.
  • Make sure you see the actual unit you will be renting, not a model.
  • Check out the area at night with friends to see if it’s well-lit and to get a feel for the neighborhood.
  • Check your cell phone reception in the unit to see if you can send and receive calls and texts.
  • Check for damages from current tenants, pets, rodents, insects, water and fire throughout the unit, especially on the floors, walls, ceilings, and inside drawers or cabinets.
  • If there are any items that need to be repaired or replaced, discuss them with your landlord and write them in your lease.
  • If you are seriously considering a rental property:
    • Ask for a copy of the lease and addendums.
    • Read the lease carefully. Pay special attention to “Non-standard Lease Terms.”
    • Consider asking current tenants about their experiences with the owner or management.
  • Most importantly, trust your instincts!