Unless you have unbelievably deep pockets, you’ll have to rent an apartment, house or office space at some point in time. However, what appears to be a seemingly easy transaction of renting a property, might turn out to become a hydra-headed nightmare when unforeseen situations begin to come up.

I have observed that issues bordering on the payment of house rent usually lead to most of the conflicts between landlords and tenants. This piece seeks to intimidate you with 5 important questions to ask your landlord in order to avoid conflicts related to house rent.

1. Question on Rent

It would appear that asking questions about how much you are required to pay for rent is a no brainer; yet, many people make unnecessary assumptions about their rent. You should ask the landlord how much you are to pay for the rent annually and you should divide the annual rent by twelve months in order to get a handle on the monthly rent. In the event that you may need to leave the property after 8 months into your lease, a firm handle on how much your rent costs per month will help you avoid messy settlements.

You should ask if the rent can be paid annually, quarterly or monthly. You should also ask about late payments in order to be sure if there is a late fee when the rent is not paid and when it is due.

2. Questions on Utility Bills

Someone has to pay the bills in a house and tenants and landlords must be on the same page about who pays the utility bills. You’ll pay water, electricity and sometimes sewage disposal bills; hence, you need to ask if the utility bills are already included in the house rent or if you’ll need to pay the bills yourself.

The pros and cons of including the utility bills in the rent can be debated from now until tomorrow. You know what works for you, and the most important thing is to know who is responsible for paying the utility bills.

3. Questions on Security Deposits

Many landlords will require tenants to pay a security deposit when they rent a house. The security deposit is meant to deter tenants from defacing/destroying/damaging the property during their lease. At the expiration of your lease, the security deposit should be returned to you (in principle) if the property has not been damaged. Part or all of the security deposit can be applied towards restoration work if the property has been damaged in any form during your lease.

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If the landlord is not asking for a separate security deposit, you should ask to confirm if the security deposit has already been included in the house rent. More so, you should be sure that you are on the same page with the landlord on the refund of the security deposit. You should be clear on when you should pay the security deposit and on when the landlord will return it to you at the expiration of your lease.

4. Questions on Subletting

Subletting is one of the few ways by which you can lessen the load of exorbitant house rent in big cities such as Lagos and Abuja. Subletting involves you letting out a part of your apartment to another person – for example, letting out a room out of a three bedroom flat to someone. You could also sublet your entire apartment if you’ll be moving out before the expiration of your lease.

However, you need to be sure that your landlord is okay with subletting before you go ahead with getting a sublessee or assignee. You also need to confirm if the landlord will need to meet with the sublessee or if you can transfer the lease without making new agreements.

5. Questions on Terminating a Lease

The last question that you should ask your landlord as it relates to the house rent has to do with a termination of the lease. In some instance, you’ll be eligible to receive the remainder of your house rent if you are leaving before the expiration of your lease – provided you have given due notice.

You should ask the landlord how much time is considered due notice so that you’ll be eligible for the refund. You should also ask if you’d be charged a fee for a sudden termination of the rent.

Vivian Gist

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