Today, we’re talking directly to renters who are preparing to lease a Tampa rental home. There are some important questions you should always ask a landlord or a property manager when you’re signing a lease and preparing to move into your new home.
Check the Rental Listings Carefully
When you’re renting a property in Tampa and looking at the listings, it’s easy to focus on the pictures and details such as rental amounts and move-in dates. However, a lot of rental listings provide some good information, especially if you’re moving beyond Craigslist and looking at advertisements on reputable real estate and property management websites.
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by reading every listing carefully. If it’s complete and detailed, it may tell you thinks like which appliances are included, how much you should expect to spend on utilities, and which school district is close to the property.
Always start with what you find in the listing. From there, you can make a list of questions that need answers, and you can contract the owner or landlord directly.
Be Clear About Security Deposits and Move-In Funds
Always ask about security deposit amounts and what you’ll be expected to pay before you move in. Sometimes, a landlord will want the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit that’s sometimes equal to a full month’s rent. That’s a lot of cash to come up with before you even get the keys to your new home.
This isn’t necessarily a sign that you shouldn’t rent the home; it isn’t uncommon. Just make sure you know what an owner is looking for so you can budget and prepare and make sure you can get together the cash that’s required to move into the property.
Find out what the application fee is as well. Unlike in other states, there are no limits on what a landlord can charge prospective residents when they complete and submit an application. In Tampa, you can usually expect to pay between $45 and $75 just to apply for a property. Ask to see a copy of the rental criteria before you apply. It’s important to feel pretty confident that you’ll get approved for the property before you apply. There’s no sense in wasting your application fee if you know you don’t meet the credit standards or income requirements.
Maintenance and Rent Collection and Utilities
Ask about utilities as well. If you’re renting a single-family home in Tampa, you will likely be responsible for paying the electricity, water, sewer, and trash. There may be an HOA fee and you’ll want to know whether you are responsible for that or if the owner pays it. Not only do you want to know which utilities and bills you’ll be responsible for; you’ll also want a general idea of how much you’ll be spending. A larger home will usually have higher electric and water bills. You’ll want to know what you should budget for utilities.
Ask about parking and landscaping or pool services. You might be responsible for lawn and pool care, or there might be a professional who comes in to take care of those things for you. If there’s a regular service, you’ll want to know if you’re responsible for those bills or if they’re already included in the rental amount.
Apartments and duplexes and other multi-family units sometimes include utilities. Make sure you understand what you’re responsible for paying and doing.
Paying for Pets in Tampa Rental Properties
If you’re moving in with a pet, you need to ask about pet fees and deposits. Most pet owners are willing to pay extra in order to live with their beloved dog or cat, but you still need to know what that means for you financially. Many properties will charge additional fees for pets. You’ll need to know if you’re paying a deposit or a fee, and if it’s refundable or non-refundable. Ask about pet rent as well. Sometimes that’s a monthly fee that’s added to your rent.
It might be time for your dog to get a job so Fido can pay his own rent.
Just be prepared for the pet fees so you aren’t surprised when it’s time to move in.
The reason it’s important to ask all these questions is that your relationship with a landlord or property manager can really sour if you enter into a lease agreement without knowing these things.
Other important questions you should ask include:
When is rent due? How should rent be paid? The lease agreement should detail this entire process, but you want to know if you have the option to pay rent online or if you have to deliver it in person every month.
Ask about how you should report maintenance issues. Usually, there’s a separate process for emergency maintenance and routine maintenance. Make sure you know how you’re supposed to communicate when a repair is needed.
Make sure you are comfortable with the lease agreement and everything it entails. It’s easy to rush into a process, especially if you’re feeling pressured by the landlord to move quickly. But, you don’t want to sign anything you don’t understand, and you don’t want to rent a home before all of your questions have been answered.
If you’re a resident looking for help with the leasing process in Tampa, please contact us at Mynd Property Management. We have lots of homes to show you, and even if you don’t rent one of our properties, we’d be happy to share our resources and advice with you.