Whether you choose to live off post for the schools, spouse employment opportunities or just to get away from work, your landlord can have a huge impact on your housing experience. Although you won’t see them every day (hopefully), a landlord’s approach to renting can determine the amount of financial and physical stress you experience.
A positive, productive relationship with your new landlord or property manager starts with effective communication. Establish open communication right from the start by interviewing a potential landlord or property manager with these basic questions. Not only will these questions for your landlord shed light on what your landlord expects from you, but they can also help you avoid a sticky situation before a lease is signed.
1. Establish Current Status
The first questions for your landlord that you should ask are related to the current status of the home. Make sure that the availability of the home or apartment works with your intended arrival and move-in date. For example, you don’t want to assume a home is vacant, cleaned and ready to go if someone is actually still living there.
- Is the home currently occupied?
- When will it be cleaned and move-in ready?
- Will the carpets be replaced before I move in?
- What date can I move my stuff in?
2. Determine Financial Terms
Although we all hope for a seamless lease-signing experience, it’s important to make sure all financial obligations are stated upfront. In fact, all financial details should be laid out clearly and available in writing.
- How much is the rent each month?
- When do you expect rent to be due?
- What deposits are required?
- Are they refundable at the end of our lease?
- What payment methods are offered?
- What are the penalties for late payment?
- What repairs/upkeep are at my expense, and what is covered by the landlord/property manager?
- Is there a pet deposit?
- Is the pet deposit refundable or nonrefundable?
Keep in mind that the ability to pay your landlord online can be a tremendous convenience if you are asked to TDY (Army Temporary Duty) elsewhere. Although asking some of these questions can feel uncomfortable, it’s essential for you to know your military landlord’s policies before you sign a lease with them.
Hot Tip: Show your future landlord how organized you are by letting them know upfront that you are a military renter. Reassuring them that you will be a good renter and, if needed, will follow the correct lease-breaking protocol if you are called to PCS elsewhere will set a positive tone for your stay.
3. Inquire About Utilities
A responsible landlord should be able to give you a solid estimate of all expenses, including utilities. Understanding what extra costs are associated with a potential home is important to help you ensure an appropriate budget is in place for your month-to-month expenses.
- Are any utilities included?
- Which utilities am I responsible for?
- How is trash removal handled?
- What utility companies do I need to contact to activate services?
Seasoned landlords will volunteer this information for you. In fact, it may even be written within your lease agreement as just a helpful clause. While a landlord not offering this information up front isn’t necessarily a red flag, it’s still good to gather this information.
4. Move-In and Move-Out
It is recommended not to accept an informal approach to moving in and moving out procedures. This is because your move-in inspection will set the bar for the condition of your home. Likewise, your move-out inspection will determine how much, if any, of your deposit you’ll get back. Your property manager or landlord should be able to clearly outline the procedures for move-in and move-out inspections.
- Who will do the inspections?
- How often do your tenants receive back their deposits?
- What do you consider to be normal wear-and-tear, and what would be considered damage that would take away from the deposit?
It’s reasonable for landlords to keep some or all of a deposit in case of property damage. However, many unethical landlords keep deposits no matter what to cover the costs of what could be considered normal wear-and-tear. Asking probing questions about how often they return deposits and their standards for the condition of the home can help you determine if you want to rent from them in the first place.
5. Day-to-Day Management
Before you make any changes to the home or hire a maintenance person, check in on your landlord’s expectations. They may have a preferred contractor or maintenance company that they will hire themselves. Or, they might be very strict about what changes you can make to their property.
- Is there a local contact/manager?
- Is there a 24-hour number for maintenance emergencies?
- How fast is the response to maintenance problems?
- What modifications am I allowed to make to the home?
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Vetted Military Housing Options
Discover exceptional military housing options near your next PCS location through AHRN. With personalized search options, you can view rentals that match your needs and preferences. Furthermore, the military housing options at AHRN are posted by military landlords who enjoy renting to military families!