Important Questions to Ask Your Agent Before Signing a Lease
There are a multitude of factors tenants consider when searching for a new rental, however, it is often the things we overlook that end up having the largest impact on our quality of life after signing a lease and moving in. Do your due diligence and avoid being caught off guard!
Will you need to pay extra in order to use the building’s amenities?
If the building has a gym, roof deck, extra storage or other amenities in the building, confirm that access is included in the lease.
Does the building have a policy on temporary walls?
If you’re considering installing a temporary wall to divide a larger space and in turn help lower costs, make sure you know if the building will allow it. Real estate agents may not know the answer to this and it is a wise decision to check with the landlord, as there is often a penalty if prior approval is not granted.
How noisy is the property’s location?
If you live in a big city, come back around midnight to see if any bars or restaurants near the apartment building are particularly loud. It may also be helpful to ask the neighbors about any noise problems outside and inside the building.
Is the building kid-friendly?
This may be something you are looking for or looking to avoid, but it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into. Due to housing discrimination laws, it’s illegal in most areas for real estate agents to discuss whether a building is family friendly or not. Small bikes in the bike room, a majority of larger apartments, and a playroom are all giveaways, but it can also be helpful to ask a doorman (if the building has one) or residents of the building before making your final decision.
Will your furniture fit in the elevator, hallways and doorway?
Is the doorway to your new home wide enough to accommodate your furniture? And if not, is this furniture you are alright parting ways with? Door frames vary greatly in width and moving day is a less than ideal time to discover that not everything you have brought with is going to fit.
What is the apartment and building’s bed bug history?
In the state of New York, prospective tenants are legally entitled to a written disclosure of the building’s bed bug history before you sign a lease. In order to save time, it’s a smart idea to ask about the building’s bed bug history up front. You may also enter the building’s address into the Bed Bug Registry as well as the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development website.
Who pays for the utilities?
Find out if you as the tenant will receive monthly bills for cable, internet, electric, gas, etc. or if this will be included with your monthly rent bill.
Will you have control over the availability of heating and air conditioning?
If the building relies on central heat and air conditioning, you should find out what time of year does the system switch from heat to A/C and vice versa.
Are pets allowed?
Not all buildings permit dogs, and even in the ones that do, it is likely on a case-by-case basis (and sometimes you even have to pay a fee!). Big dogs (anything over 50 pounds) are frequently discriminated against.
Is the apartment rent-stabilized?
In rent stabilized apartments, the landlord may only raise the rent by a reasonable percentage set by the city each year. Monthly rent tends to much lower than market rate in older rent-stabilized apartments, and tenants lucky enough to find one tend to stay.
Does the apartment have issues with cell phone reception?
Many apartments (or sections of apartments) are located in cell service ‘dead zones.’ Make sure you are able to live with the level of cell reception before signing a lease.
Asking questions like these will help you to be an informed renter and increase the likelihood of being satisfied with your new home.
-The Realster Team