What questions to ask when renting a house.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. I am going to rent a house in a modest sized town. What questions should I ask the owner? What questions should I ask about the house? I want to plant fruit, vegetables and flowers. Should I ask permission of the owner? What should I be concerned about?
  2. BrushBuster

    BrushBuster Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    you need to ask permission for anything you do that is not already stated as permisable in the lease, especially any modifications to the landscape or structures

  3. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    Different states have different rent laws. These laws were put in place as a guide to protect the renter and the landlord. Unfortunately, both renters and landlords are seldom aware of what their individual responsibilities are. From failing to understand the rent laws many misunderstandings erupt. Ask the landlord if he abides by these laws and for yourself look up under google search egnine the rent laws for you state. Having first hand information on these rent laws will give you an awareness and possibly avoid a misunderstanding in the future. It could also save you some money.
  4. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

    Feb 4, 2003
    NW TN
    Maaaaan.....do I have experience by getting screwed by the landlords! Here is a list off the top of my head from past experience.
    1) How new is the plumbing? Does any of it leak? Need to be replaced?
    2) How new is the wiring? Does it need to be updated? Is any of it a fire hazard?
    3) How much insulation is in the house? Is it sufficient? (We lived in a house that didn't have ANY and it was extremely cold!)
    4) Make sure you get IN WRITING what you can or can't do with the land and surrounding property, if any. Gardens, new flower beds, added animals, etc.
    5) Is the heating source sufficient? Could you install an alternate source? For example, if you install a wood burner, make sure you consult his insurance company first.
    6) Will he take any repairs you make off the rent if you pay for them and/or the materials, or will he be held soley responsible for the repairs? Are his repairmen knowledgable and know what they are doing?
    Again, make sure you get all of the above in writing if you do not sign a lease. If at all possible, I would find out if he has any other renters and go and ask their opinion of the landlord....if I had done that before I moved into our last house I would have NEVER rented from him. But since I didn't, I'm paying the price now. Good luck!
  5. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Well, for one thing, be prepared to completely restore the property to its former glory when you move (or prepare to pay $$$$ for someone else to do it) if you're putting in a garden. You may have to leave trees (but you can take the fruit that month) behind. Any improvements you make to the house stay with the house. You may or may not get paid for them by the landlord--usually it depends on whether the improvements really improve the property (as opposed to just making it nicer for you). For example, yes, it's nice to have a freshly painted house on the inside, but not purple or red (2-3 coats of new paint before you can change the color again)...you get the picture. If you attach a satellite dish to the house, make sure you do it so that you can easily repair any damage it causes, etc.

    Certain things in regards to health and safety (like the septic tank) the landlord is responsible for, but just because someone doesn't like light blue walls (that were recently painted professionally) doesn't mean you are entitled to 1) paint and/or 2) get paid because you did paint. As pointed out, ask and get permission/terms each time in writing to do this. Protects you, protects the landlord. The above is an extreme case, to be sure, but some renters want new/perfect house for cheap. Most landlords are reasonable, as long as you have bona fide receipts for materials. If you take off for weed spray, do take care of the weeds....

    If you're just renting, why improve the property at all? Are you looking at container gardening (you could take it all with you)? Also, your landlord may raise the rent on you if he's paying an extra high water bill (many renters do pay their own water and pay on time, but unlike electric, which just gets shut off, there is a lien placed on the property when water bills are not paid, so some landlords pay water and build it into the rent price). Their expenses go up, your rent will go up.

    As far as house conditions, you get what you pay for. Renting an old house? Expect old (but serviceable, not necessarily top-of-the-line) plumbing, wiring, etc. Old houses may or may not have insulation, AC, etc. Some counties/utilities have low-interest loans for increasing the energy efficiency of old homes by the landlord, but you have to ask around, and it has to make sense for the landlord (if they expect to sell the house soon, it might, otherwise, no). To be honest, with all the mold issues in NEW houses these days, I'd rather have a more "air-conditioned" place, so to speak, and just keep one or two rooms comfortable. I have heard some insurance companies require that homes being used as rentals not have fireplaces or woodstoves (though this probably wouldn't fly in areas where you have real winters).

    And of course, pets. Ask, and don't be surprised to pay a huge deposit for the privilege.
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    as a landlord i will never again let anyone...

    paint anything. the last ones wanted to paint at their expense. i said ok. they painted as high as they could reach on the walls and left it. i had to repaint the whole house!

    plant anything. the last ones wanted a garden. i said ok. they put it in a spot other than where i told them too. they tilled up a huge part of the lawn, dug giant holes (for what I don't know), put a few plants in and promptly let them die. now i have a huge mud wallow in the yard.

    have dogs. that always turns out badly...forgotton dog tearing up the yard, pooping on carpet or chasing my livestock.

    i basically won't let a tenant do anything because if there is a way to make it turn out bad...they seem to find it!

    on the other hand...i always fix things that need fixing promptly. i'm not going to put insulation in, but if the roof leaks, it gets fixed.

    checking your landlords references is a good idea...ask their other renters.

  7. BeeFree

    BeeFree Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 22, 2004
    Ripley Co. Mo
    My renters have to sign a rental agreement. It tells what they or I can or can not do.

    If I have good paying renters that take care of stuff as they should, I am pretty lenient.

    We try to take care of all problems araising, but we have to be told about them. I have told all that wanted a garden that they could put one in, and where they could put it, but not have done so.

    Pets are allowed, but there is a deposit, or monthly rental on them. It depends if they are inside or outside pets. Snakes and spiders are forbidden.

    Best thing for you to do is discuss all with Landlord and get it in writing. Best for both parties.
  8. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 21, 2004
    deep south texas
    Ask about the avalibility of renters insurance. get everything in writing ,check with the landlord/tennet board for complaints, there are a few landlords that are scum but there again so are there tennets from hell that tear a place up.talk to the BBB about the land lord. What are the landlords refferences???
  9. RAC

    RAC Guest

    I doubt that many landlords, if any, belong to either the BBB or the Chamber of Commerce (no reason for them to, as neither organization would really "do" anything for them as far as networking, discounts, etc.), unless they're big-time apartment owners, and you're not renting an apartment.

    Tenant organizations are pretty much big-city creatures for the most part. They tend to be most interested in things like rent control, which isn't necessarily an issue outside cities.

    I don't know what a landlord would do if you asked them for references. Laugh? Seriously, renters move often, and while a landlord might still have the address they sent the deposit back to, chances are they have since moved from it, so tracking down the references would be difficult, particularly if you deal with people who don't want junk mail following them, so don't fill out a change of address card (they only change the addresses of the bills, etc.).
  10. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    When you walk through the house to look at it, take a pencil and paper with you. Make notes on things you see wrong or needing repair. Look under sinks for water damage which means leaks. Look at carpet and drapes, have they been cleaned? Tell the landlord about your concerns. You can tell allot about the kind of landlords they are by the condition of the house. This will tell you what kind of renters they have had too. If the paint is new perhaps they have had awful renters, if the paint is old but clean they may have had great renters. The day you move in get a camera and the days newspaper, with the day date you are to move in. Photograph everything with that newspaper next to it.
    These photos if needed are proof of the condition of those things you took pictures of. If a sink has a crack..photograph it! This way when you move out the landlord can't say 'you did it!'.

    As a landlord it is better to tell prospective renters everything up front, as a renter it is better to ask everything up front. If the landlord isn't receptive to what you would like to do (with in reason) then it isn't the place for you.
  11. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Rental insurance is between you and your insurance agent. If your buying insurance from your landlord, look out...

  12. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    You might consider just investing in a few big pots or 5 gallon buckets to start growing things on your deck. Bonus is, if you move unexpectedly you can take the growing plants with you. Tomatoes are being grown 'upside down' now from 5 gallon buckets. I haven't done this, but friends have and they seem to do great. Easy to maintain these potted plants too. No, you can't grow 40 corn plants this way, but maybe you'd be better off renting/borrowing a separate piece of ground specific for gardening if that is what you had in mind. You can grow an awful lot of things intensively in pots...even beans, zukes and cukes. Need pots? Put an ad in the penny saver that you are looking for pots for giveaway--heck, if you were here I could give you about 15 gallon ones and lots of others.

    Any work other than maintaining the yard (mowing, sweeping, shoveling snow) must be discussed with the landlord. I would be very upset with some 'improvements' I have seen people make, if they did it on land I was renting. Don't even prune anything without a conversation. Remember, a garden may increase water usage if that is included in rent, so consider compensating for that.
  13. When we rented, we had a duplex that didnt have insulation. We called the landlord, he said he wasn't obligated, legally, to provide it. He showed dh the place with a refrigerator, then promtly removed it after we signed the lease. We had to do a cat and mouse game of finding him, making him give us one, and when he did, he left it in the front yard, covered with mold. We had to move it in the house b/c he refused. One month he told us our rent check wouldn't clear, and started a shouting match with dh. We then took the check with us, went to the bank, removed the money that supposedly wasn't there, and paid him in cash. He tried to force us to give him the extra we would have to pay for a bounced check, and we told him to take it out of the deposit, as stated in the lease. he would call on my day off, and cuss me and make a a** of himself, if the grass wasn't mowed or something else like that. Dh finally told him to never speak to me again, or he would have to a legal route. It wasn't until after we started having problems that neighbors started volunteering information. He sold the house, giving us a day notice, telling me to make sure I had the house clean. We did video tape the place before moving in, so we had a record of damage. The new landlord had the impression that this damage was our fault, and we offered him a copy of the tape. He dropped it and we got our deposit back when we moved. Just be carefull and get everything in writing.

  14. Mullers Lane Farm

    Mullers Lane Farm Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    NW IL
    I have a checksheet for the renters when they move in where we both go through the house and note & document concerns.

    I have a new renter coming in on the 15th from out of town. Her mother looked at the place. The mother was told it did not have central A/C. The renter called yesterday and asked if the central A/C would be put in before they moved in on the 15th. I told her that I would put the central A/C in the rental house after I put central A/C in my own home. The new renter wanted to know if I would provide window A/C units for every room in the house. No, the house does not have A/C, period.

    I have a rental lease agreement that must be signed. Get everything in writing from the tenent/landlord so there is no confusion.

    My rental house usually costs me more money than I make on it from rent. I'd like to sell it but the market is real soft here.