The Checklist of Questions To Ask Leasing Agents and Landlords

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Choosing the right home to live can be a daunting process, especially if you have never done it before. Apartment hunting can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. The biggest blunder potential renters fall into is becoming too swept up in the novelty and glitz of property hunting, meanwhile forgetting to find out all about the relevant and necessary information that could potentially make or break their renter’s experience. What you see and what you get can often be misleading and deceptive, therefore it’s crucial to be properly informed before signing a lease.

Finding the right home is time consuming and days can easily be wasted if time if not used efficiently. To find the right property for you, it’s important to ask the right questions. If you can ask the most suitable questions and know what to look out for, it can save you a great deal of time and energy to shortlist your favourited properties for actual viewing and walk through later on.

It is important to keep in mind the kind of housing you are looking for when asking these questions. The policies for a walk-up building and one for a serviced apartment would be slightly different.It’s advisable to have a clear idea first because there are a plethora of housing options out there that could be suitable for you and without a vision,your search can go on for months with no end in sight. In order to streamline and expedite your process, we have come up with a list of the most useful questions to ask your leasing agent and landlord before signing a lease agreement:

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General Questions

• What is the minimum lease term?

• Is short-term lease available?

• How much is the agent’s commission?

• What documentation do I need in order to sign a lease agreement? (This varies from place to place, but in Hong Kong, the general required documentation are a HKID card or Passport, employment contract and bank statements).

• Can I sublet the property? What about Airbnb?

• How many leasees are required to be on the lease? What if I have roommates? What if we are a family?

• Do I need a co-signer/ guarantor?

• Are pets allowed? Dog-friendly? Cats?Large fish tanks? Reptiles? Birds? Are any breeds restricted?

• If pets are allowed, how pet friendly is the property? Are there allotted areas for dogs?

• Is it a walk-up or elevator building?

• How old is the building?

• Is there any history to this building that I should know about?

• Who were the last tenants who lived here?Why did they move out?

Financial Questions

• How much is the rent? How is rent paid each month? What is the late rent policy?

• Is there an application fee?

• What is the security deposit? Is it refundable? Will I be required to pay first month’s rent and last month’s rent upfront?

• Is renters insurance included / required?

• Can I extend my lease when the lease term ends?

• Can the landlord increase my rent if I extend the lease?

• What is the penalty for early termination of my lease?

• Under what circumstances can a landlord terminate my lease?

• Is the property Inclusive or Exclusive Rent? Are the utilities included? If so, how much per month is the  fee for inclusive-utilities?

• What are the average utility costs on top of the monthly rent? (If utilities are not inclusive)

• What is included in the utilities? Cable?Gas? Electric? Trash removal? Wifi?

• Do I need to pay maintenance for repairs or is it included?

• Is there a pet fee or pet security deposit?

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Apartment Questions

• How many bedrooms?

• How many bathrooms?

• Studio? Duplex? Triplex? Condo? Service Apartment?

• Is there a private outdoor space?Balcony? Terrace? Rooftop?

• What kind of air system is used? Central Air? Wall Air Conditioning?

• How many AC units are there?

• Who is responsible for changing the filters in the air conditioning units?

• Is there a heating system?

• What kind of flooring is it? Wood floors? Carpeting?

• Is there laundry system - Washer/dryer -in the unit?

• Do the windows open?

• How much closet space is there?

• Is there a storage room?

• Are there maid quarters? (Domestic helper employment requires a live-in space)

• Can I make alternations / redecorate the walls? What are the policies?

• Can I repaint the walls? Wallpaper?

• Are there phone lines? Broadband / DSL? How many working electrical outlets are there?

• How much cell phone reception will i get?

• Is noise a problem? Are the walls sound-proof? Can I hear my neighbours next to me?

• Is there natural light during different hours of the day?

• Can the landlaord / property management enter my apartment without notice? Under what circumstances?

• Any problems with pest control? Bugs?Cockroaches? Rats?

• How do I buzz in visitors and delivery people? Can I do it from my apartment?

Property Questions

• When was the property built? When was it opened for rent? Has the quality been maintained? Have there been any renovations? Are there any upcoming renovations?

• Who oversees the management of the property? Are there fees and deposits? Additional expenses?

• How are maintenance requests handled? On-site technicians? Outsourced? How long does it usually take for my requests to be met?

• Who do I direct complaints and concerns to?

• What are the safety precautions provided?

• What are the amenities provided? Are there any additional charges?

• Is there security? Is it 24 hours? How many security employees are there?

• How do I receive my mail? How and where are deliveries left?

• Is there a laundry facility on the property? (if In-Unit washer/dryer is not provided)

• Is there a fitness center?

• Is there a business center? Conference rooms?

• Are there communal outdoor areas?

• Is there a swimming pool? Are there lifeguards on duty?

• Can I bring guests on the property to use the facilities? Is there a fee?

• What is the general demographic of the tenants here? Is it family friendly? Targeted for singles?

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Young Professionals?  Locals or Expats?

• Can I hold events and parties?

• How often do noise complaints happen? Will noise levels be a problem?

• Is there a community board of members who manage the building’s activities?

• Who handles the maintenance of the building and apartment units? Are they available 24/7?

• What is your occupancy rate? What about the renewal rate?

Kitchen Questions

• Is there a full kitchen? kitchenette? Bar?

• Is the stove gas or electric?

• What appliances are included? Microwave? Oven? Fridge and freezer? Dishwasher? Garbage Disposal? Stove top?

• Are the appliances new? If not, how old have they been in use?

• Is the landlord willing to replace old appliances upon move-in?

Bathroom Questions

• Are there ensuite bathrooms? Guest bathrooms? Full or half bathrooms?

• Is there a bathtub, shower or both?

• What kind of water heating system is it?

• How strong is the water pressure?

• Is hot water shortage ever a problem during certain times? What about if two people are running hot water at the same time in the apartment?

Parking Questions

• Is there parking in the building?

• Is parking included with the unit? How many parking spaces are provided?

• How much is a parking spot? Additional parking spots?

• Are the spots assigned or is it free parking?

• Is there guest parking? Is there a fee?

• Is there street parking in the area? Parking structures?

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