Things I Should Have Known About Renting But I Was Afraid To Ask

Things I Should Have Known About Renting But I Was Afraid To Ask


  1. How much is monthly rent?
  2. How many of us may rent and live at this rental address?
  3. May I rent from you for a twelve-month, nine-month, or less time period?
  4. Where and when must the rent be paid?  If rent is paid after that date, do you charge a late fee? How much is it?
  5. If one month’s rent is late, does the lease contain an acceleration clause that causes all remaining rent to become due and payable?
  6. May each roommate pay his/her portion of the rent with separate checks?
  7. If my roommate leaves during the lease, who’s responsible for paying that share of the rent? 

Do I pay for:

  1. Heat (electric, gas, or oil)
  2. Water/sewage
  3. Hot water
  4. Parking (what about guest parking?)
  5. Air conditioning
  6. Garbage collection
  7. Repairs of any kind.  If so, why?
  8. Pets (are pets allowed at all?)
  9. Cable TV

Security Deposits

  1. How much is the security deposit?  When must it be paid?  When is it returned, or may it be used as my last month’s rent?
  2. Do I receive interest on the deposit?
  3. What must I do to have my security deposit returned in full?
  4. Which bank will hold my security deposit?

Escalator Clause

  1. Does the lease contain escalator clauses that could cause my rent to increase during the lease period?  For example, are energy-cost increases passed on to the tenant?
  2. In previous years, were such assessments made?  If so, by what amount did they exceed the base rental figure?

Lease Termination

  1. Is notice required to terminate or renew the lease, or will it automatically renew for another year?  When must notice be given and in what form?
  2. If the lease automatically terminates, will I have the first right to renew it?
  3. Is it possible to terminate the lease before the stated date?  What fee, if any, is charged for early termination?  How much notice is required for early termination?  In what form?


  1. Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished?
  2. Are a stove and refrigerator provided?
  3. Are drapes and curtains provided?
  4. Are there screens on the doors?  Windows?  Sliding glass door?
  5. Is there a fire extinguisher in the apartment?  Are there smoke alarms?  How often are they checked or tested?
  6. Has the apartment been insulated or weather-stripped for more energy efficiency?  What are the average heating/cooling bills?
  7. Is a laundry available on the premises?  If no, where is the closest laundromat?
  8. Is a storage area outside of the apartment provided?  How is access to the area obtained?  Is a fee charged?


  1. How many parking spaces are provided per apartment?  How do I get a parking space?  Is a fee charged?
  2. If I pay for parking, is it assigned?  What if someone parks in my space or the lot is full?
  3. Can my guests park in the lot?  Is there a designated guest parking area?

Repairs (paid by the landlord)

  1. How do I notify you of emergency repairs during the work day, on weekends, and after office hours
  2. Do you have an on-site maintenance staff to handle normal repair requests?
  3. How soon after my request will repairs be made?
  4. d. If I want something special done, may I request that you do it if I am willing to pay for it (e.g. paint my apartment a color other than standard white)?

Right of Entry

  1. How much advance notice will I receive before your staff comes to make repairs or conduct an inspection?
  2. Do I have to let someone in if doing so is inconvenient?
  3. If I am not renewing my lease, will I have to allow people in to see my apartment?  How about if I am renewing?


  1. Do you change the locks at no charge between the moving out and moving in of tenants?  Is there a charge for keys?
  2. Do you have a dead-bolt lock or other secure locking device that operates only from inside the apartment on all doors?
  3. If I wish to install a dead-bolt lock or other locking device, may I do it?  Will there be a charge?
  4. Do you have a peephole or viewer in solid doors that enables the tenant to see who is at the door before opening it?
  5. If I lose my key and want either another key or the lock changed, is there a charge?  If so, how much?

Moving In

  1. What is the earliest date I may move in?
  2. May I move in earlier if the present tenant leaves early?  Do I need the tenant’s written permission to do so?  Is there a fee for moving in early? If so, do I pay you or the tenant?  If my apartment is not ready, clean, or in good repair, who is responsible?  When will the repairs or cleaning be done?

Damage Report

  1. Will someone help me complete the damage report when I move in or out?
  2. How much time is allowed to report damage that was not initially apparent (e.g. a broken refrigerator shelf support that won’t stay up when groceries are put on it)?


  1. Does the lease contradict a tenant’s legal right to have visitors for a “reasonable time?”  Does it attempt to define “reasonable time?”

Renter’s Insurance

  1. Do I need to purchase it or do you provide it?
  2. See Student Affairs - come to Reception area on the top floor of the Hiller Building or contact Rebecca Pennington by phone at (814) 375-4766 or email

Don’t forget to get receipts for money paid and keep copies of all paperwork.