10 key questions to ask an agent when looking for a property to rent

It’s important to be informed: that means reading the lease and other paperwork carefully and asking questions about anything you’re not sure about. Clarifying any concerns or asking questions with the landlord or real estate agent before signing a lease agreement is essential for any prospective tenant.

Here are some common questions that tenants ask us and how we usually answer them.

  1. Is there anything I’m entitled to know about the property before I sign the lease?

Yes. The agent or landlord must inform you of a number of things, including if the property has been affected by flooding or bush fire in the past five years or has significant health or safety risks. They must also tell you of all-inclusive and exclusives, or for example if parking is an issue.

  1. Furnished or not?

Knowing if property are furnished or not can be a deal-breaker for the person that does not have that much furniture to know its furnished or for the one with the full Monty to know the property is unfurnished thus don’t have to put all their stuff in storage

  1. What’s included in the lease agreement – do I need to factor in utilities?

Some rental agreements do bundle water bills and rates (and others even go as far as including gardening or pool maintenance) but it differs with every rental.  Always ask if any utilities are included in the monthly rent.

  1. Should I get contents insurance?

Absolutely! Landlords are responsible for paying insurance on the building or property itself but they won’t usually cover your possessions. And you’ll want to be covered by a contents policy in case of theft, fire, other damage or natural disasters.

  1. What do I do if something breaks or needs fixing?

Contact the landlord or agent first, preferably in writing. They’re obligated to take care of repairs or damage but if they don’t, you can arrange for repairs to be done and the landlord must reimburse you within 14 days for any reasonable repair costs. You must be able to show it was not your fault, and that you attempted to contact the landlord and gave them a chance to do the repairs. You also need to show that they were carried out by a qualified tradesperson. Keep all correspondence and receipts.

  1. How do I make sure I get my deposit back when my lease ends?

Keeping the property in a good condition for the duration of your tenancy (except for ‘fair wear and tear’) is the best way to get your bond back. If repairs or cleaning are needed at the end of the lease, the landlord or agent has the right to deduct the cost or a portion from your bond. Keeping communication open during your tenancy about any accidental damage or repairs also helps keep the property in top shape.

  1. How often will you be doing inspections and what do I need to know?

Your landlord has the right to inspect the property four times in a 12-month period, with 7 days of written notice each time.

  1. Can I have a pet in my rental property?

Legally you’re not prohibited from keeping a pet but many landlords will have a clause restricting pets in the tenancy agreement, so always ask first.

  1. When will the rent be increased?

It depends on the term of your rental agreement – if you have a fixed term of 2 years or more in the property, rent can be increased once per year.

  1. Who is responsible for managing the property?

You need to ask whether it is the landlord or a professional managing agent “Who will be your point of contact if there is a problem? Is there an out-of-hours number you can ring if the boiler packs up or the plumbing needs urgent attention?”

We hope that provides you with some useful info next time you’re signing a new lease. Enjoy your new home!

Adapted from https://oneagencylindyharris.com.au/