While some renters ask the ‘right’ questions, they often don’t ask them in the most beneficial way.
Because details on the pricing and location of your next home are usually included on the listing, it’s important to focus on the information that’s not there.
Questions every renter should be asking
No matter what type of renter you are, you should focus on what amenities you want, and start thinking about those amenities with a price tag. For instance, the ability to live close by public transport or a major shopping centre could give your property a high Walk Score. For every 100 metres closer to the train station, you could be looking at extra costs. Every Renter will have a different set of priorities and preferences. Some people will be willing to pay an extra $100 per week for a good balcony, while others are the exact opposite.
You should also remember the little things, like asking about mobile phone reception (be sure to test it out) and whether the windows open.
We’ve devised a 10-point guide to asking open-ended questions that provide a platform for a good response from your landlord or property manager. The more they talk, the more you’ll learn about the property. Asking carefully chosen questions will give landlords a chance to explain what’s involved with your next property and help you to discover attributes about the property, the landlord or the lease agreement.
Don’t forget these 10 questions renters often forget to ask:
1. What action do you take if I fall behind in rent?
Your landlord or property manager should be able to provide you with a clear outline of their policy for what happens when a tenant falls into rent arrears.
2. What happens if something goes wrong, and my property needs maintenance?
Many landlords will have a preferred contractor who deals with emergency situations at your property. If your property is managed by an agent, they’ll organise quotes and coordinate required works to a pre-arranged financial limit. Make sure you discuss this with your landlord or property manager to ensure that you’re comfortable with the process.
3. How will you check my tenant history, and is there anything I can provide you with?
It should go without saying that a good landlord or property manager will do their best to personally screen tenants. This screening process needs to include the use of products such as Rent.com.au’s RentCheck, which accesses a major tenancy database. Assuming the landlord is present when you first inspect the property, this is generally what they will use as a starting point to assess your suitability. Ask your landlord or property manager whether they have a system for checking prospective tenants with regard to their credit worthiness, past rental history and current employment.
4. How many inspections do you carry out each year?
How regularly your landlord or property manager will carry out inspections will depend on the legislation specific to your state or territory. But it’s key that you know the maximum number allowed. Ask what sort of report you will receive (if any).
5. What is the policy on adding people / pets to the lease?
Some tenancy agreements will require every individual over a certain age to sign the lease agreement, while others only require a single tenant. It’s also worth noting that some properties do not allow pets and children, while most are fine with it. If you’re considering expanding your family unit, be upfront with your landlord or property manager and ask about it. That way, you won’t be put in a tight corner after you’ve signed the contract.
6. What’s included in my weekly / fortnightly / monthly rent?
Rental properties in Australia are made available in a number of ways: Fully furnished and equipped, fully furnished, partly furnished, white goods only or unfurnished. Sometimes, this can be a little confusing, especially when you’re viewing a property where the previous tenants have not moved out. Make sure you ask your landlord or property manager what comes included with the property in case you need to purchase more furniture or store your existing furniture. Some landlords will be flexible about what is included and what is not included and will adjust the rental price accordingly. It’s worth asking the question.
7. Who is responsible for paying the utility bills?
Some rental properties in Australia have bills such as water, gas and electricity, while others don’t. Depending on the type of rental property you’re going to rent, you should ask which of these bills will be your responsibility. Some properties will also come with additional services, such as gardening or lawn mowing, which you may or may not be responsible for.
8. What amenities are included with this property?
Is access to the gym going to be a deciding factor when it comes to your next lease agreement? Get the details on amenities offered as part of your regular rental payments. Some buildings come with public areas or workout facilities. It’s worth checking the hours and what’s on offer before you make a decision.
9. What is your ideal lease duration?
If your landlord is looking for a two-year lease, and you’re only looking to commit to one year, then it won’t matter how lovely the apartment is – you should start to look elsewhere.
10. What payment methods will you accept for rent?
Landlords should make it easy for you to pay the rent on a regular basis. Online payments are a reliable way to pay the rent, because it will allow for automation, security and convenience for you and the landlord.
Asking the right questions from the start and doing your own research will ensure you don’t find yourself out of pocket or paying more than you need to. What other questions do you think are useful to ask before moving into a property? Send us an email, or let us know in the Comments section below.