5 questions you need to ask before signing a lease

Tips & How to's

5 questions you need to ask before signing a lease

Whether you’re starting university or a new job, or living with friends, a spouse, a full family or on your own, moving into your own place is one of life’s major milestones, signifying a new chapter and the start of many great memories.

However, as wonderful as this experience might seem, fond memories and a fresh start can quickly be spoiled if it turns out that your new rental is not what you thought it was. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to tell whether the issues you face during your tenancy will be minor inconveniences or downright disasters—but there are some questions you can ask beforehand that will help you to avoid the worst of them.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 5 most important questions to ask a landlord or Property Manager before signing a lease.

1. What is included in the Lease Agreement?

While most leases tend to follow a standard format, what’s included in the lease and what is expected of both tenant and landlord will vary somewhat between each property you look at. Sometimes, you’ll be sent a copy of the lease agreement to look over ahead of any property viewing but if not, your chance to read it usually comes when you meet the Property Manager.

If you’re pressed for time and focused on making a good impression (as every hopeful tenant is) it can be easy to overlook certain details of a lease agreement, which is why it’s so important to ask the Property Manager or Leasing Agent to confirm what is included in the agreement.

Firstly, it gives you a chance to compare the actual terms of the lease with the listing and make sure that major details, like the number of bedrooms and parking spaces, are as advertised. Secondly, this will tell you whether utilities are included in the rent. Don’t be afraid to ask about this explicitly. You want to know if you are required to do any garden maintenance and whether or not the property comes with appliances such as a fridge or washing machine.  

2. What length of lease duration are you looking for?

Once you have confirmation of the major details, it’s time to determine whether or not you, the Property Manager and the landlord are all in agreement over time frames. Typically, lease durations are left up to the discretion of the landlord: some prefer to go month-by-month or year-by-year while others will only sign a multi-year lease in order to secure tenants for the foreseeable future.

Lease durations are rarely advertised on property listings so it is essential to confirm this to avoid locking yourself into a commitment that doesn’t align with your goals. If the landlord wants to sign a two-year lease but you can only commit to one year, then you can either ask if there is some flexibility or you can rescind your application. Just be sure to confirm the exact start and finish dates for the lease and when your first and final payments are due. 

This is also a good opportunity to ask the Property Manager if the landlord allows for early termination of the lease and what the terms of terminating your lease are. Many renters avoid asking this question because they fear it makes them look unreliable, but it’s a fairly normal question for the Property Manager and it is better to know ahead of time how much it will cost you should you ever need to terminate the lease.

3. Are you intending to sell the property during the duration of the lease?

There is nothing more inconvenient than trying to find a new place to live unexpectedly however it is an unfortunate reality for some renters if their landlord suddenly decides to sell the home they’re renting. You can’t predict what the new owner may decide to do with the property but you can ask whether or not your landlord plans to sell ahead of time. 

While landlords legally have to tell you if they plan to sell the property, this only applies if they have prepared a contract for its sale. Although life can change suddenly and a landlord might spontaneously decide to put a property on the market, most will have at least some idea of whether or not they’re planning to sell in the next year or two and this question can help you prepare.

If your Property Manager can’t give you either a firm yes or a no, then you can decide if you want to proceed or not based on your own plans.

4. What is the process for dealing with maintenance requests?

Most Property Managers will have arrangements in place with local plumbers, electricians and handy workers to take care of any maintenance issues you may have in the property. So, make sure you ask that the process is regarding this as they may require you to report any issues directly to them so they can rectify them, rather than you organising anything yourself. Knowing who you should call will help avoid any disputes.

Again, don’t be afraid to get specific when discussing the maintenance process. For instance, how long can you expect to wait for a problem to be fixed, and do you need to be present while contractors are in/on the property? 

A good Property Manager will be able to answer your questions straight away and should lay out clear guidelines as to how it works, how long maintenance usually takes to complete, and whether or not you need to be present, while also providing you with a 24-hour contact number, just in case you experience an emergency out of hours. 

5. Do you have an app or software for renters?

We’re living in a modern world where digital tech is evolving to make everyday life easier – and renting as a tenant should be no exception. So, before you sign, perhaps ask if your Property Manager offers digital tech that makes things like maintenance requests, notifications and rental statements convenient for you all throughout your tenancy.  

If your Property Manager uses a platform like PropertyMe, you won’t have to worry about missing tenancy appointments, having to find emergency numbers to call or leasing paperwork hidden in draws.

PropertyMe Mobile App allow you to have everything right at your fingertips so you can enjoy your home with ease.

Speaking of which…

Manage everything related to your tenancy from the palm of your hand with PropertyMe’s mobile and desktop App

Your responsibilities don’t end as soon as you sign the lease but there’s no reason why they should make your life harder. With PropertyMe’s mobile app, everything you need for a pleasant rental experience is all there on your phone: view upcoming rent payments and inspection dates, submit a maintenance request or even chat directly with your Property Manager.