9 Questions to Ask Before Applying for Rental Property

Renters, ask these questions before you fill out a rental application and spend money on a rental application fee.

What types of questions should you ask before applying for a rental property? Before you decide to fill out a rental application, which often comes with a rental application fee, make sure to ask a few questions to determine if the rental property is a right fit for you. Some answers may affect your rental budget while others may cause you to reconsider and look at other North Carolina rental home options which may be more appropriate for your lifestyle.

Are the following ten questions all you should ask a property manager before applying for a rental property in North Carolina? Probably not, but we think this is a good start that covers important information tenants will want to know about a potential rental property’s lease terms. If you have any questions about our rental properties in Raleigh, Chapel Hill or Durham, please do not hesitate to contact us at Red Door Company.

What are the Terms for Paying Rent?

Always ask what day rent is due and if there is a grace period if you miss the due date. Also, ask the property management company to explain what charges you will incur for paying your rent late. Other than the rental payment terms of the lease, find out what kind of payment options (direct deposit, check, online payments, etc.) are available for paying rent.

How much are the upfront costs before taking possession of the rental property? Tenants are often required to pay first month’s rent and a security deposit before taking possession of a rental property. Also, there could be other upfront charges such as a parking fee or a pet fee. If you decide to complete a rental application and depending on the results of the tenant application screening process, the property management company may also require additional upfront funds before you taking possession of the property.

Is Buying Renter’s Insurance a Requirement for Renting This Property?

While renter’s insurance is a good idea and usually relatively inexpensive, it is important for you to find out if obtaining renter’s insurance is a requirement of the lease. You will want to know the answer to this question so you can add the premium amount to your monthly budget when determining how much rent you can afford.

Are Pets Allowed? If so, are There Additional Pet Fees?

The property owner may have a pet policy which forbids pets, or a landlord may allow pets if they meet specific criteria. Either way, you need to ask about the rental property’s pet policy and about the fees associated with having a pet(s) on the property. Pet fees vary and may include a refundable deposit, a flat fee, a percentage added to each month’s rent, or a combination of multiple fees. Once again, you need to know these terms so you can add that amount to your upfront costs and monthly rental budget.

What is the Guest Policy for the Rental Property?

Do you have a family member who is planning to visit and stay for four or five weeks? Are you in a relationship with someone who will be staying overnight for multiple nights in a row each month? If so, you need to understand what the guest policy of the rental property’s lease allows. In many cases, visitors may only be allowed to stay overnight for a certain number of consecutive nights before you are in violation of the lease terms.

How Does Parking Work and are There any Parking Restrictions?

Before applying to rent a home in North Carolina through a property management company, make sure you understand the rules for parking. Many times, especially when renting apartments or townhomes, tenants are given assigned parking spots and only allowed to bring a certain number of vehicles on the premises. Even when renting a single-family home, you may encounter parking rules and restrictions if a homeowner’s association governs the property. Ask questions about parking now so that you don’t find yourself paying fines later.

Is Smoking Allowed in the Rental Property?

Many landlords now require that their North Carolina rental properties are smoke-free. If you are a smoker, then you need to decide whether you will be able to rent a smoke-free home or if you will need to find another home to rent which allows smoking. The penalties for not complying with this lease requirement can be costly. Penalties may involve forfeiture of your security deposit along with the cost of interior painting and cleaning or replacing the carpet in the rental property.

Will the Tenant be Responsible for Mowing Grass and Performing other Yard Work?

Cutting the grass, weeding, pruning shrubs and trees, raking and bagging leaves are just some of the landscaping chores you may be responsible for, especially if you are thinking of renting a single-family home. Ask what yard care responsibilities tenants must perform. Also, ask what fines or fees you will be required to pay for violating the lease terms.

What are the Financial Obligations and Options for Breaking the Lease?

While it is usually in your best interest not to break a lease, sometimes it is unavoidable (e.g., job transfer, family illness). Breaking a lease can be expensive, and the lease will spell out your financial obligation for doing so. One way to help yourself avoid costly financial fees is to find out if your landlord or property management company allows tenants to sublet their rental property. Before applying for the rental property, discuss this subject and see how flexible your landlord or property manager is when it comes to breaking the lease.

As mentioned above, this is not a comprehensive list of all of the questions to ask before applying for a rental property. Use this as a guide, but also take the time to write down questions you may have before meeting with a property manager or landlord. And remember, if you have any questions about renting a home in North Carolina or any of our policies and procedures, do not hesitate to ask us. Contact us today, and we’ll gladly help you find your new home in North Carolina.