Everything You Should Ask a New Landlord

If you’ve finally finished the process of looking through apartment listings, touring place after place, finding the rental that’s best for you, and getting cheap apartment insurance that fits with your budget, it probably feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. That said, while most of the work is behind you, there is still some important information you should ask for before moving in.

Landlords have a significant amount of control over their tenants and properties, so it’s important to have a strong relationship with your landlord. Asking these questions before move-in day will clarify some of the aspects that could have a substantial impact on your living experience.

Maintenance and Cleaning Between Tenants

You may assume that your landlord is going to provide a cleaning service for the apartment after the previous tenant leaves, but this isn’t always the case. Some landlords will paint and clean in order to freshen up the place, but others will leave most of this work to their tenants. Even rekeying locks is generally not a legal requirement.

If your landlord gives you the place in the same condition the previous tenants left it in, you should thoroughly document any imperfections so as to avoid paying unnecessary charges at the end of your own lease. Photos or videos of any damage, dirt, or appliances that aren’t functioning will act as proof that they were not your fault.

Rules on Entering Your Apartment

Laws on landlords entering tenant apartments vary depending on the jurisdiction—in New York City, for example, legal entrance is limited to certain situations like performing maintenance or showing the apartment to prospective tenants, and landlords are required to provide advance notice unless there’s an emergency.

Knowing when to expect your landlord, superintendent, exterminator, and other people is important for your privacy and comfort. Many landlords provide regular services on specific days, and it’s helpful to be able to build your own schedule around these events.

Rent Increases

New York rents increased by over 26% from 2010 to 2018, and housing prices have risen across the country in recent years. If you’re considering living in this apartment beyond the initial lease, it’s worth asking your landlord how he or she calculates rent increases and how the rent has changed in recent years.

If you paid a broker fee when leasing your apartment, one benefit of staying in the same place is that you’ll often avoid this fee after the first lease. Broker fees can add up to a lot over the course of a year, and these savings may balance out any increase in rent.

Your relationship with your landlord can have a significant influence on your living situation, as a positive dynamic will make it easier to ask for maintenance, forgiveness on late rent payments if necessary, and a renewal of your lease at the end of the contract. Asking these questions will help you prepare for your new place and have an idea of what to expect once you move in.