Houston Property Management Blog

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

System - Thursday, March 19, 2015

By the time you’re looking at the agreement to rent a home, you may be excited at the prospect or just glad to be done with your search.

No matter how tempted you may be to just sign on the line, though, it’s important to review each element of your potential lease before you sign it. A lease is a legally binding contract that can limit your actions for months or years, so take a few minutes to review a few critical questions.

Can I make changes to the home? If you’ll be living in the home for very long at all, you’ll probably want to hang up some items, paint some walls, or make other changes to truly make the space your own. Be sure to ask the property management about any restrictions before signing your lease though. Some homes may be off limits to any but the most basic modifications. If you’ve got your heart set on splashing a bit of turquoise on the walls, you may find yourself disappointed later if you find a no-painting rule after signing the lease. When can the property management enter the home? Although you’re not the owner of the property, there are still certain laws protecting when management can enter it. In many cases, property managers must give you a certain amount of advance notice before showing up for an inspection, maintenance, or other reason to enter. Any legitimate management company will be able to supply the conditions of their entry when you ask. Are utilities included in the rent? This may seem like a basic question, but far too many renters overlook this detail and may wind up outside of their budget once electricity, water, and other utility bills are factored in. Clarify who will be covering these costs and whether you’ll need to take steps to connect any of these services if you move in. How far in advance do I need to give notice when moving out? Some rental properties will require weeks or months of advance notice before you move out. Even if you’re not planning on leaving in a hurry, you never know what situation might arise, so be sure to ask this in case it becomes an issue later on. Do you allow pets, and is there a deposit? Don’t forget any fluffy friends when getting signing a lease. Even those who don’t currently have any pets should ask about the policy in case it comes up later. Clarify the details surrounding what types and sizes of animals are allowed, and if there will be a security deposit or fee attached. There are many other questions that should be clarified before signing a lease, but these are a few to get you on the right track. Carefully read everything included in the agreement, and don’t hesitate to ask a landlord to clarify anything that you don’t understand. It’s better to ask beforehand rather than end up with a costly misunderstanding down the line.