Signing the lease is a huge decision to make especially for first time renters. It is vital to comprehend what you are about to comply with in the written tenancy agreement as surprises such as the mobile phone signal is nowhere to be found, and the unbearable scent drawing near from the pile of rubbish that were left irresponsibly. As a tenant, it is your duty to ask the possible questions to help you in making the final decision. Below are some uncommon questions that you may use to ask your landlord.
#1: How is the parking arrangement and cost?
This may sound simple but if you own a car, chances are you need a parking spot. You would not want to pay a fine or spend too much on a parking lot. A suggestion would be to ask your potential landlord whether there are any additional charges to the parking spot or is it included in the total rental fees. If it is not provided, question the landlord regarding the cost of a parking spot and the parking application procedure. This would help you to know whether it is within your budget and how convenient the process is. Parking arrangements are equally critical especially if you have guests coming over for dinner.
#2: How’s the mobile phone signal?
This is relating to your mobile phone and data plan signal. Knowing that this is important for many of us as mobile phones have become a large part of our life, it is reasonable to ask this question. However, this question may not appear in our minds beforehand as we may carry the assumption that the signal is excellent. It could be disappointing when we do not have direct access to our mobile phones especially when we need to make a short phone call.
#3: How much is the average utility charges?
Taking this example from ‘Malaysia at a Glance’ under InterNations, the basic utilities rate is estimated at RM 166. The broadband on the other hand cost an added amount of RM 145. Depending on the location and usage, this figure varies. Request the copy of the utility bills from your landlord to manage your expectations regarding the approximate fees on a monthly basis.
#4: When I decide to be your tenant, will you enter my apartment?
After all, the landlord will have their set of key to the rented apartment. Negotiating these terms would be a sound idea in terms of under what circumstances the landlord may enter the premises. A responsible landlord does not appear at your doorstep unannounced. Ensure that the agreed points would be stated in your tenancy agreement.
#5: How does the rubbish collection work?
This could give you a better picture on how hygienic the condo is. There should be a location where the rubbish is thrown and collected. Apart from that, the timing and frequency for the trash to be collected is necessary. If it is collected once a week for example, this could be a potential red flag as the hygiene standard is low. You know that something is really wrong if you need to stack the waste product right outside your doorstep. Imagine all those cockroaches and flies lurking from the garbage lot. Eww! Not a pleasant sight to begin with. Save the trouble and ask your landlord.
#6: How does the lease terms work if I decided to rent?
According to The Malaysian Bar (Badan Peguam Malaysia), lease terms last between a year to three years. This would be included in your tenancy agreement. Apart from knowing the length of your lease term, it will be wise to know the penalties that may be charged. Again, you can save the trouble of being foiled with the signed agreement you did not pay great attention to. At times, many things could happen in that period of time such as job relocation, marriage or even a sabbatical leave. Discuss and negotiate with your landlord the term and conditions regarding your lease terms. Do ensure that from both sides, it should be a win-win situation.
#7: How much do I pay if I shifted in the middle of the month?
Some landlords will charge based on the day you moved in. For example, the 17th of every month. Some will allow you to pay 50% of your rental fees. Some may be even generous to waive off the fortnight rental fees. It depends on the discussion between you as a tenant with your landlord. Be clear on their expectations regarding the above question. Concurrently, be honest with yourself on how comfortable you are with the arrangement made.
#8: Will rent increase every year?
Rent increase is a common practice especially when the contract ends. This is included in the tenancy agreement. It is best to check with your landlord whether there are any rent increase involved if you decided to continue the contract. If YES, it is sensible to question the predicted price.
#9: Who covers the repair costs?
In the tenancy agreement, this particular statement should be included. It may sound petty especially when it comes to dim light bulbs. However for items such as ceiling fan and water heaters, the replacement is usually settled by the landlord. Simultaneously, inquire your landlord whether this specific terms will be included in the tenancy agreement.