8 Questions to Ask Before Renting

questions to ask before renting a boston apartment

Oct 2

Are you looking for Boston rentals around town? Before you sign a lease it’s important to ask these 8 questions. Click here to find out what they are.

Looking for Boston rentals? It’s a good idea to make sure you know all of your rights and obligations before you sign a lease.

Americans are renting at rates we haven’t seen since 1965. Millennials in particular are finding that it makes better financial sense to rent. This is particularly true in cities like Boston, where the rent vs. buy conundrum continues to complicate the market.

As the demand for homes for rent outstrips supply, many tenants can feel pressured to sign on the dotted line as soon as they find a home or apartment they like.

Read on to learn which questions you should ask before renting.

Things to Consider When Looking For Boston Rentals

Both tenants and property owners must follow certain rules when renting in Boston. In order to make your rental experience successful, you should ask the following questions:

1. How Much do I Need to Pay?

Property owners can ask for fees and deposits before you move in, along with your rent. While you’ll obviously need to know how much you’ll be paying each month, you should also ask how much you can expect to pay before you can move into the property.

By law, you can be charged:

  • A security deposit of one month’s rent
  • The first month’s rent
  • The last month’s rent
  • A fee for the installation of new locks

They can’t charge you for:

  • Fees to hold the house or apartment
  • Application fees
  • Fees for credit checks
  • Finders fee if they’re renting out their own apartment

2. What Are The Terms of The Lease?

Your rental agreement could be short-term or month-to-month. But a lease will usually lock you into a property for at least six to twelve months. You’ll need to check how many months your lease is for, so you can be sure you can commit for that period of time.

The terms of the lease will also include how much notice you need to give before you move out. This is often 30-60 days. If you don’t give enough notice, you could end up losing your security deposit.

You’ll also need to know how you should pay your rent. Often, this can be done electronically. Or, you can write a check to your leasing office or landlord. You may also want to ask what happens if you miss a payment or pay late.

You may not own your house or apartment, but that doesn’t mean that anyone can enter whenever they like. Make sure the inspection policy is included in your lease.

3. Are Utilities Included?

You may think that an apartment is a perfect price — only to find out that utilities are not included. 

Utilities can make a massive difference to the amount you’re paying each month. Be sure to ask if your rent includes internet, cable, energy, or water. 

Some apartment buildings will also charge extra for storage, amenity usage, or parking. Don’t assume that any of these things are free — be sure to ask first.

4. Are Pets Allowed?

While some Boston rentals will completely forbid dogs and cats, others will allow them on a case-by-case basis. For instance, a small dog may be allowed, but not a massive German Shepherd. 

Check your lease for any fine print, and speak with the landlord if anything seems unclear. You’ll probably need to pay a pet security deposit to protect against any damage. 

5. What About guests and Airbnb?

Some rentals may limit the number of guests you’re allowed to have to stay each month. If you like to have people stay, this may not be the best situation for you.

If you’re planning to make a little side income with Airbnb, you’ll need to see if this is allowed as well. There are a number of legalities to consider with Airbnb as well. Make sure this is covered before you sign your lease.

6. Do I Need a Co-Signer?

Most landlords will require you to pass a credit check. You’ll also need to meet an income standard. In places like Boston, many landlords require that you’re earning at least 40% of your monthly rent annually. 

That means that if you want a $2000 apartment, you’ll need to be earning $80,000. 

For this reason, it can be helpful to have a co-signer or guarantor. Often, this will be a parent, who are basically agreeing that they’ll be liable for the rent if you don’t pay.

7. Can I Decorate?

When you move into a new house or apartment, it’s natural to want to decorate it to make it feel like home.

Often, that means decorating. But before you add artwork, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to decorate.

Most leases will include this information. They usually stipulate that the apartment needs to be restored to the condition you found it in.

Some landlords will even include a clause stating that you need to obtain written permission before decorating or painting. Hanging artwork, driving nails into the walls, putting up wallpaper…all of this may need to be approved. Otherwise, you may end up losing your security deposit.

8. Do I Need Renters Insurance?

If you’re looking for Boston rentals, renter’s insurance is a good idea. It covers your property in the event of flood, fires, and sometimes even theft.

Some renter’s insurance may even cover you for any accidents or injuries that occur within the apartment. It’s often a small expense so it can be well worth purchasing it.

However, some landlords or property management firms will actually require you to have renter’s insurance, so you should ask this early on in the process. 

Ready to Begin Your Search?

As you can see, there are a few important questions you need to ask when you’re visiting Boston rentals.

You may want to make a list of your key questions, so you can have them ready to go each time you visit a new apartment.

Be sure to check out our rental calculator, so you can see how much you can afford to spend on renting in Boston.


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