Property Management Blog

Homes for Rent in Charlotte NC 6 Key Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

Homes for Rent in Charlotte NC 6 Key Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

Despite a cooling real estate market across the country, prices in Charlotte are still going up, albeit at a slower rate. Zillow predicts that Charlotte will be the hottest real estate market in the USA in 2023.

If high home prices mean you'll need to put your homeownership aspirations on hold, here's our guide on how to choose a home to rent.

It all starts with asking the right questions while considering homes for rent in Charlotte, NC. These are our top six.

1. Can You Clarify All the Costs Involved

There's no question that your budget is a top criterion when choosing a home to rent, especially as rental rates continue to rise in North Carolina.

So, be sure to ask the landlord or their property manager to explain and quantify all the monthly costs involved in your rental upfront. It's best to get everything you discuss regarding costs in writing. Some costs involved in renting a home include:

  • The advertised rent
  • Utilities
  • Security deposits
  • Other non-refundable fees
  • Pet premiums

If the landlord quotes a different price from the one advertised, don't assume you've viewed an outdated listing before asking. You won't know if they've made an error until you ask, and they'll give you a lower price if this is the case.

Sometimes, the landlord pays the utility bills and invoices their tenants for the amount. Other times, utilities form part of the rent or the tenant must see to their utility connections and payments.

It is illegal for a landlord to charge a non-refundable deposit in North Carolina, according to the Tenant Security Deposit Act.

It is legal for landlords to charge penalty fees for late payment of rent. Find out what these are, so you know what to expect if this happens. 

Late fees must be within the state's limits. 

It's useful to find out which payment method the landlord prefers at the outset. Online payments via a tenant portal allow for automation and convenience for both landlords and tenants. 

Landlords are free to stipulate their preferred method of payment, but you should avoid those who only accept cash payments.

2. What's Involved in the Home Renting Process?

Ask the landlord to describe their ideal tenant. If they use terms like ''single, white female with a career in finance'', you can expect them to have a biased outlook in other respects, too. 

Rather walk away from landlords who disregard fair housing laws in this way. If they give a reasonable answer, you'll know whether you can meet their expectations.

Ask what's involved in the tenant screening process beforehand, so you can have all the necessary documents to hand when needed. 

If the landlord requires references, it could take a few days to receive these from previous landlords and your employer. You don't want to lose out on a rental because you can't get a copy of your employment letter at short notice.

Ask if they require a hard or soft credit inquiry. The former can negatively impact your credit record. 

3. What Is the Duration of the Lease?

One of the first questions to ask is when the landlord expects you to move in. If they require a tenant immediately, and you can't move for another month, you might have to pass up on the opportunity.

Unless there's little to no demand for the rental, it's pointless continuing with your inquiry if they can't wait for you to move in. 

The duration of the lease is another make-or-break situation. If you can only commit for a year, there's no point engaging with a landlord who insists on a two-year lease. 

If you want to rent the property for longer than the standard lease stipulates, inquire about the procedure for renewing it. If your landlord doesn't want to commit to a new lease they may allow you to rent on a month-to-month basis. 

In cases where the landlord intends to sell the property

Sub-Letting and Lease Termination

Ask about the process if you need to move out early due to unavoidable circumstances.

Most landlords understand that life happens, and they'll usually allow their tenant to sublet the apartment in these cases. If your landlord agrees to allow you to sublet the property, they will likely expect this tenant to meet the regular screening criteria.

This isn't an option if the lease refers to exclusive occupancy or prohibits subletting. 

Before you sign a lease like this, you should inquire about the procedure for terminating the lease early. An early termination clause usually involves payment of two or three months' worth of rent.

Sometimes you'll need to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant. 

This is also a good time to inquire about what happens if the landlord decides to terminate the lease early. 

4. What Does the Rental Include?

Furnished apartments and homes are rare, but you'll usually get some appliances with your rental. Find out what these are and who is responsible for repairing or replacing them. 

Parking can become a major stumbling block, especially if you're renting a home in the city. Ask whether there is parking included in your lease and whether you require any permits to take advantage of it.

If you're renting with a roommate, ask about a second vehicle, too. 

Ask about parking for overnight visitors and find out whether you're allowed any guests while staying in the apartment. Most landlords allow overnight visitors occasionally, but if your partner stays over several times a week, they might start to object. 

5. What Is the Procedure for Maintenance Requests and Inspections?

When you're fortunate enough to rent an apartment via a reputable property management agency, you will enjoy a handy online portal for requesting repairs and maintenance.

If not, you should ask the landlord how you go about this. Unless they have a system for managing maintenance issues, it's best to keep looking. 

Some landlords simply ignore maintenance requests, which means you'll either need to pay for the issue yourself or live with it. 

A quick look around the apartment will reveal how particular the landlord is about maintenance and cleanliness. 

You must clarify who is responsible for the upkeep of the rental property at the outset. Usually, the tenant must see to the day-to-day upkeep of the place, such as changing the lightbulbs, while the landlord sees to the bigger issues. 

Conscientious landlords must make an effort to visit their properties regularly to ensure everything's in good order. These visits are a good opportunity to discuss any concerns you have and to point out any maintenance issues, too.

The most important aspect of inspections is to ensure that the tenant is sticking to the terms of the lease and taking good care of the property.

Ask the landlord how much notice they'll provide before arriving for an inspection. This help to ensure minimal disruptions to your routine and allow you to prepare adequately for the visit. 

6. Can You Tell Me More About the Neighborhood?

Ask the landlord if they'd like to live in the house or apartment. An unenthusiastic reaction might suggest underlying issues such as dampness, traffic noise, or a cockroach problem.

If they don't have a reasonable explanation for why they wouldn't live there themselves, you should probably consider other Charlotte NC homes for rent, too.

Other issues close to home include the crime rate in the area. If the landlord seems to be playing this down or doesn't know, you should speak to the local police or the neighbors about the prevalence of crime.

Take a stroll or drive around the neighborhood, so you can imagine what it's like living in the area. Is it close enough to work, school, and stores?

Do you feel safe walking around and are the locals friendly? Is there a lot of traffic around that might disrupt your commute? If so, are there any public transport options nearby? 

View Homes for Rent in Charlotte, NC

Not only will these questions reveal important information about your potential new home, but they'll also highlight the landlord's communication skills.

Pay attention to how they respond to your questions. Are they confident and do they seem honest?

Their responses may provide a glimpse of how future interactions might proceed. If you are not comfortable with the landlord or their representative, rather continue your search for accommodation elsewhere. 

As a leading property management company, we can assure you of fair treatment and excellent service when you engage with us during the home rental process.  

Browse our selection of homes for rent in Charlotte, NC, and get in touch for answers to all your questions.

Blog Home