30 Questions a Tenant Will Ask Before Signing a Rental Contract

30 Questions a Tenant Will Ask Before Signing a Rental Contract

Since the housing meltdown, nearly 3 million new households have become renters. At least 3 million more are expected by 2015. If you’re new to the landlording, this is a great time as rentals are on the rise!

Following are some things a tenant will ask before signing a contract. Determine, ahead of time, what your answers will be!

Questions to ask a landlord:

  1. How much is the application fee?
  2. What documents do you require when I submit my application?
  3. Will you run a credit check?
  4. Will you run a criminal background check?
  5. How much is the security deposit?
  6. Which fees are non-refundable?
  7. How long is the term of the lease or rental agreement?
  8. Do you allow pets? What are the extra charges for pets?
  9. How do I pay rent?  (check, cash, money order, credit card)
  10. What day of the month is rent due?
  11. What day of the month do late fees begin accruing?
  12. If I move in before the 1st of the month, will I be charged for the entire month?
  13. Can I paint any rooms of the property?
  14. Can I install a security system?
  15. Are any utilities included in my rent?
  16. Is the property all electric?  If not, which items are gas?
  17. What are the names, addresses, phone numbers of the utility companies for this property?
  18. Is cable included?
  19. Is parking available?
  20. Are the appliances included and which ones?
  21. How are maintenance requests handled?
  22. Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in this property? (required in rentals)
  23. How much will rent increase each year?
  24. Am I allowed to sub-let?
  25. Can I add someone to the lease at a later date?
  26. Can I rent month-to-month? Is there an additional fee?
  27. If my lease ends, does it automatically revert to month-to-month or must I sign a new lease?
  28. What is the fee if I terminate the lease early?
  29. What are the requirements when I move out?
  30. When and how do I get my security deposit back?

Things prospective tenants look for:

  • Tenants don’t just check out the property; they check out the landlord to make sure they’re renting/leasing from someone who’s reputable.
  • Do they have a website?
  • Is the rent they’re requesting reasonable? Get an idea by checking rentrange.com.
  • Check crime the area through some of the crime check sites like CrimeReports.com.
  • For an idea of utility costs before signing a contract, call the city water, gas and electric companies.  Most will give a six to twelve month average for the address you are considering.

Please, leave your questions or comments below, and what questions do your tenants ask you?

This post has 4 Comments | Would you like to leave a comment?


  1. Thanks, Gary, for adding to the conversation.

    And for helping people understand the importance of maintaining the property so they receive their deposit back when they move!

  2. Good list. I want to pay special attention to security deposit. A lot of tenants don’t think about it until they move out. And this a huge mistakes. Before moving in, renters have to take steps that will help them get their deposit back on time and in full. So as it is advised here https://rentberry.com/blog/get-security-deposit-back ask you landlord under with circumstances your security deposit won’t be refunded.

  3. You signed a contract agreeing to pay for 12 months so, yes, it is binding.

    But, perhaps you can list it on Craigslist and get a new tenant to sign up for it. A landlord cannot charge twice for the same property so, as soon as it is rented, your responsibility will end.

    Good luck!

  4. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I terminated lease early due to my situation, my landlord hold me responsible for the rest of lease term which is one year unless the new tetant occupy the apartment.

    Is it OK by California Law?

    Thank you

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