Chuck Rich Properties

Chuck Rich

2914 S Greenwood Drive
Johnson City, TN 37604

Five Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

So, you’ve found the rental property that looks perfect for you and your family.  Congratulations!  But, as with all major decisions in life, it’s good to ask a lot of questions before signing that lease. Your lease is a binding legal agreement so it’s important to make sure you and your landlord are a good “fit” before you sign. Here are five common questions you should explore with your future landlord:

1. Decorating - Can I hang pictures? Can I hang curtains? Can I paint the walls? The answers to these questions may not be what you would expect.  If your landlord says “no” and you do it anyway, be prepared to lose your security deposit.  The premise that “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” does not work in a landlord/tenant relationship.

2. Maintenance - What does the landlord consider an “emergency” maintenance item requiring immediate attention?  If the toilet is clogged at 3 a.m. in the morning will someone come out and unclog it for you?  Does the landlord have a full-time maintenance staff to handle common repairs quickly? Many smaller apartment complexes do not have a full-time maintenance staff making repairs much longer to resolve.

3. Parking - Are there assigned parking spaces for each apartment? How many vehicles can I have in the parking lot? What about visitors?  What is the policy regarding towing vehicles that don’t have a parking permit?  Can I do car repairs in the parking lot?  Having your vehicle (or your guest’s vehicle) towed is not fun and can be very expensive so make sure you understand all of the parking policies.

4. Pets - Can I have my pet Python snake?  How about a dog or cat? Do cats have to be declawed? Do you allow large dogs and what do you consider “large”? Most apartment complexes have restrictions regarding breed and size of animals and most will not allow any pet that may be considered dangerous to other tenants or to the apartment staff. You may think that Python is a great pet but not everyone would agree.

5. Roommates - Can I have a roommate?  What is the process for getting a roommate approved?  When does a “visitor” become a “roommate”?  Your rental rate is probably tied (at least in part) to the number of tenants in the apartment so if you add more tenants your rent may go up.  Adding a roommate may reduce costs for each roommate but make sure you understand the responsibilities of each roommate before you allow that “visitor” to become a “roommate”.

As in most relationships, creating a great landlord/tenant relationship is all about expectations. You have expectations. Your landlord has expectations.  The more questions you ask before signing the lease, the better your expectations will be met and you can expect a better relationship with your landlord.

As we already mentioned, your lease is a binding legal agreement that places requirements on you (your landlord’s expectations) so please read your lease carefully before signing it and make a list of questions to ask your potential landlord.  Even if you’ve been a renter for many years and think you know all of the ins and outs of a lease, don’t short-cut the process and you’ll avoid potential issues down the road.

About the author: Chuck Rich has over 30 years of experience in residential property management. He operates one of the largest private residential property management companies in the Tri-Cities, TN area including six apartment communities and many rental homes. You can reach him at 423-926-2100 or on-line at

(C) 2015 Chuck Rich Properties - All Rights Reserved
2914 South Greenwood Drive, Suite 17
Johnson City, TN 37604
Telephone: 423-926-2100 - Fax: 423-926-5530