When prospective tenants express interest in a property, they often have a list of questions to review before signing the lease and moving in. Some of these questions are obvious and you probably already know the answers, but for others, you might want to think about creating some firm policies for reference and consistency. Become well-versed in your policies to avoid any miscommunication or seemingly preferential treatment.
Here are the top six questions you can expect from new tenants and applicants:
1. How Much is the Rent and What Does it Include?
For most tenants, the cost of the rental plays a big part in their decision-making process. Overall expenses have to be affordable, so they may ask about any utilities (such as water and electricity) or amenities included in the monthly rent.
2. How Much is the Security Deposit and What is Deducted?
Security deposits are charged to protect property owners from damage to the unit (or in the event a tenant defaults on their lease). Tenants are often concerned about getting the security deposit back at the conclusion of their rental term, so they might ask you about potential cleaning fees and other expenses that might preclude them from receiving the entire amount after they move out. Depending on laws and regulations in your area, you might be able to ask for professional cleaning or other maintenance to be completed before they surrender the apartment.
3. What Happens in an Early Termination?
In most cases, you can choose to hold a tenant liable for any uncollected rent during their contracted tenancy, though you are required to make every reasonable effort to find a new tenant for the unit. You can choose how to handle early termination and might consider including special provisions in the lease after negotiation with your new tenant.
4. How and When Should Tenants Send Payments?
Most of the time, rent is due on the first of the month, though you will probably have a grace period that extends to the fifth day. When rent comes due, how should they pay? Tenants often prefer the convenience of an online payment portal or onsite location to drop off a check or pay in cash. No one wants to face potential late fees due to a late delivery from the post office, so be sure to offer several ways for tenants remit payment.
5. Can They Personalize the Unit?
When tenants move into one of your units, they want it to feel like home. If they’re not allowed to hang things on the walls, paint or change up the flooring, you should let them know upfront. You may want to provide automatic approval for any cosmetic changes, or you could consider adding a clause to the lease that requires tenants to return the unit to its original condition. In either case, offering the option to personalize the unit may help you rent an unoccupied property faster.
6. What’s Your Pet Policy?
Pets are often considered a member of the family, and many people won’t move into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Have a clear pet policy in place and consider requiring tenants to carry insurance for potential pet damage. If you don’t require insurance, you might want to add a separate deposit and monthly rental fee specifically for pets. This will help offset the cost of cleaning and repairing any damage caused by cats, dogs or other animals.