8 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

House   Brett Rowley  | 30 May 2019

Finding the right house or apartment to rent is like trying to colour coordinate a family size bag of skittles in under 10 minutes.

You are probably thinking how is that even relatable?

Well, if you think about your dream home and what you want from it, what you need in a home, can you do this, can you do that, it slowly begins to add up.

And if you only have 10 minutes to make your decision, then you’d want to make sure it’s the right place for you before signing a 12months lease.

Sometimes all you get is 10 minutes to make a decision, as agents filter through thousands of applicants for rental properties each week.

Along with all these unanswered questions, you then have to pass the landlords test. This is where you’ll need to gather payslips, identification, rental history (if applicable) and references.

Now multiply this with the 10 homes that you spent hours combing through hundreds of properties for, and organise and arrange inspections for your one day off.

Renting probably seems like a nightmare right now, but it doesn’t have to be.

Make the most of property hunting and find your dream home with this list of questions you need to ask before signing that dotted line.

Are there any restrictions?

The last thing you want after signing a lease is finding out that you have a night curfew or that you can’t have guests over past 10 pm. Find out if there are any restrictions on the lease, which can include policies on pets, roommates, and guests. Some landlords can be quite particular and even enforce a curfew, which means someone has to be at the property at all times.

What are the material facts?

According to a bulletin issued by the WA Government, landlords must disclose all material facts to the parties in the transaction as an essential part of the real estate property. There is no harm in asking your landlord or real estate agent if nothing has been mentioned. This can include:

  • Building approvals (sheds, pergolas, pools)
  • The existence of non-visual damage or structural issues of the property
  • Recent history of use or activity in the dwelling (eg: production of narcotics and any residual health side effects)
  • Aspects of the surrounding area such as proposed developments (eg mine site, high-rise building, major road infrastructure, airport changes)
  • Potential psychological stigmas attached to the property (eg murders, violent crimes)
  • Has the premises been subject to serious flooding or bushfire in the last five years
  • Free parking options
  • The premises have a driveway or walkway that can be used by others legally.

When is the rent due and how is it paid?

It’s great that you have the rent amount, but it’s good to know when it needs to be paid and how it’s to be paid in case of an emergency.

Some landlords enforce strict due dates and can include overdue fines, others can be a bit more lenient and provide a grace period.

Various payment methods can also take time to process and may contain additional fees so you will need to factor this into your budget and schedule.


Can you make alterations and decorate the apartment?

Whether you’re hanging up a picture or painting the walls, ask what your landlords policy is in regards to making alterations. Your landlord may actually be in favour for a fresh coat of paint and be happy for you to do it.

It could be the case that the property has not yet been turned over from the previous tenant, and the landlord may allow you to choose the paint and carpet colours.

Some can be quite strict and don’t want so much as a nail going into the wall, so make sure to double check before you go ahead and mount a tv.

Does the rent include any utilities?

Find out if your rent amount covers any utilities and if so, which ones, is it gas or electricity? Or both. This will allow you to factor the costs into your budget.

Are there any penalties for breaking your lease?

Although you intend to stay the entire time, anything can happen and your circumstances can change. Find out how what are the terms for breaking the lease and how much will it cost.

How many times has the home been leased in the last 2 to 3 years?

You don’t have to ask the landlord or agent for this one, but it’s definitely worth checking to see what the turnover rate may be. If the property has been leased out multiple times in the last couple of years, for whatever reason, then you could use this as a bargaining chip.

How is the maintenance handled?

It is a good idea to find out how maintenance of the property is handled as this will determine how fast and successfully an issue will be resolved. This can include plumbing, heating, aircon, appliances or garage door. This is also a good opportunity to ask if there are multiple garage door remotes and to make sure they are working correctly. Otherwise, we have compiled a few things you can try to troubleshoot your garage door and to reprogram your remotes.

8 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

What documents do I need?

Documents that you will need to provide the property manager can include:

  • Employment verification letter
  • Income verification (eg: payslip)
  • Reference from employer
  • Photo ID (driver’s license + passport)
  • Three personal references that are not from relatives
  • Reference from neighbour, teacher, doctor, or accountant
  • Last utility bill or rates notice

To find out more information, contact your property manager and ask what is required to apply for the lease.

Documents you should receive as a tenant

Documents required to be provided to you at the time of signing can include:

  • Copy of residential tenancy agreement
  • Copy of bond lodgement form
  • Original and copies of condition report that need to be signed and returned to the office in specified timeframe
  • Receipt for initial rent amount, lease fees and bond
  • Photocopy of all keys and remotes
  • Emergency contact details
  • Information booklet relating to renting

Brett Rowley

Brett is a garage door expert who also runs Gryphon Garage Doors. He strives for great customer service, excellent product knowledge and constant innovation.