1. Paint Normally the landlord will pain tbeofre you move in. Feel them out and see if you can supply your own paint colors. This is what we're doing now and it's saved us time since we would have painted ourselves.
2. Upgrade appliances.Check out the appliances and if the fridge still doesn't have a separate freezer see if they're willing to upgrade it. Pitch the idea of energy efficiency.
3. Carpet upgrade Is the carpet worse for wear? Could it use a deep cleaning or could it be switched out. Before you sign the lease see if the landlord will pay for that to happen and if not see if they'll split it with you.
4. Utilities Make sure you understand what the landlord is responsible for and what you are. In the house we're moving to we're responsible for the trash and electricity, and the landlord is responsible for water. The tricky part is that they all come on the same bill.
5. Paypal. We had a landlord once that accepted the rent check via paypal. While this was probably unusual, it was very convenient since the rent check was the only physical check we would have been writing, all the rest of our bills we pay online.
6. Last Tenants. We always like to ask who the last tenants were, how long they lived there and why the moved out. It often gives a lot of insight into the landlord and the property. Even if the landlord is vague, even that tells you something.
7. Major Repairs Find out if there have been any major repairs done in the last 5 years. Mold Reparation? New pipes? New Central Air?
8. Garden. Ask about the exterior maintenance. A lot of times landlords will do a pesticide spray a couple of times a year. If you have pets you'll want to know how often it happens so you can keep them out of the bushes.
9. Pet Deposit Our new landlord wanted an extra $50/month in order to have our cat. We negotiated and put down a deposit instead. This way when we move out, if there's no pet damage, we'll get money back instead of it all going to rent.
10. Read the Lease: This is perhaps too obvious, but under pressure we've often felt like there's only time for a quick skim and then sign, but ask to have the lease emailed to you ahead of time so you have time to really read through it and that you understand what each party is responisble for. If there's anything you're uncomfortable about, bring it up before signing it. Make sure that everything you agreed to verbally is reflected in the lease, it's there to protect you and the landlord.
What questions do you ask before you sign a lease?
(Image: Laure Joliet)