Important Questions to Ask If You're Thinking of Renting a House

Renting a house is a good choice for a family, roommates and couples who just need a bit more space than an apartment or townhouse might offer. Whatever your reason for looking at homes for rent, note a few important questions you'll want to ask to ensure you don't overlook any details or make any assumptions about that rental.

Ask if pets are allowed

Don't assume that a rental house, even if it has a yard, will allow pets of any sort; this includes anything kept in a cage or aquarium. Some rental houses won't allow dogs and cats of any breed or size. Landlords may restrict smaller pets, such as gerbils and hamsters, to ensure one doesn't escape and burrow into the home's framework. Some landlords also don't allow aquariums because of the risk of water damage to the home if the aquarium should leak or break. Always ask about pets rather than assuming they'll be accepted in a rental home, no matter the pet and no matter the size of the home.

Ask about roommates and long-term visitors

Having added space in a rental home doesn't necessarily mean you can bring in a roommate, as most landlords require roommates to go through a background check before moving in. If you think you might need a roommate in the future, ask about this process, and be sure you ask about restrictions as to how many roommates are allowed.

If you want to host friends or family members for an extended visit at your rental home, ask about those restrictions as well. A landlord might allow it for a week or two, but for a longer visit, the landlord may view them as a roommate and require a background check for them.

Ask about a cleaning deposit

It's important to know what might be required for you to get your cleaning deposit back from a rental home, as it may be harder to clean an entire home than it is to clean a small apartment when you vacate. Also, if you have children or pets, you need to know if any damage to tile or timber floors can mean forfeiting that deposit, or if you'll need to get carpets cleaned, since kids and pets are notoriously rough on a home's flooring. Ask about these details ahead of time to ensure you know what work you'll face at move out and to ensure you don't lose that deposit.