5 Questions to Ask Your Landlord Before Signing a Lease

Most renters usually sign a new property lease while largely neglecting or omitting the terms of the landlord-tenancy agreement. However, as a tenant, it’s best always to have a prepared list of questions to ask your landlord to understand what your rights and obligations are. The questions you’ve forgotten or haven’t thought to ask can lead to problems and breaches in the long run that you could have prevented in the first place.

Naturally, some luxury apartment amenities like a jacuzzi, wine fridge or dishwasher installs can be skipped. However, ensuring that the space you’ll be living in is leak-free, warm and safe should be necessary.

To ensure the property you live in doesn’t become a source of conflict between you and the landlord, you can protect your interests by asking a few handy questions.

1 Does the landlord provide access to heating sources?

Landlords are required to have certain obligations when it comes to property heating, which should be clearly stated and documented. Make sure to check for clauses that oblige the landlord to heat any room of the property at any time. Your tenancy contract should specify the minimum temperature of the bedroom and living room when outside temperatures are below sub-zero degrees.

In most rental situations, the landlords ensure that the bedrooms are heated to at least 18℃ and the living rooms to at least 21℃ when the outside temperatures fall below 0. Typically, the comfort temperature is a personal preference, but the above values are useful starting guidelines that you can discuss with your landlord. In many locations, they are even enforced by the law.

2 How long can the landlord leave you without hot water or heating?

A point to be cautious of is the landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure immediate care if the tenants don’t have hot water and heating. Things such as gas leaks and heating pipes bursting can endanger the tenants’ lives. As a renter, it’s your responsibility to maintain them routinely and keep the residence in good condition. On the other hand, the landlord is required to meet all safety regulations for maintenance and servicing obligations.

Unless you damage the landlord’s appliances intentionally or by negligence, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure repairs are performed so the access to hot water and heating is in order.

To be on the safe side, ask your landlord to inform you what repairs they can perform, in what circumstances and when they can happen.

While requirements vary across different locations, a lack of heating or hot water should always be considered an emergency. Your landlord should react to such a situation no later than a couple of days following the time of reporting it. This is a tenant protection measure which ensures the safety of the property they live in.

3 Is the landlord obliged to perform annual boiler inspections?

A landlord should provide a secure property to reside in. A well-maintained and regularly serviced boiler not only will perform better but it will also guarantee safety during use.

If you have a boiler attached to the mains gas connection, a thorough regular inspection by a licensed engineer will guarantee that no malfunctions or leaks endangering the life of the tenants happen. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that can silently kill a person, so regular boiler servicing will provide both the landlord and the tenants with safety.

From visual inspection to testing the controls, cleaning the boiler’s interior and performing a series of checks, an inspection by a licensed engineer will ensure the boiler unit is fault-free and give a detailed prescription for repairing minor problems, if there are any. In more severe cases, they may even have to replace the entire appliance.

Seek your landlord’s help in servicing your heating appliance at the beginning of your tenancy. Besides that, a professional inspection can save you a lot on boiler breakdown costs. Plus, the provision of a gas safe certificate is evidence that the landlord isn’t violating the law for renting out their property.

4 Does the property have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installed?

A malfunctioning gas appliance poses many risks, such as fires, explosions and even CO2 poisoning. Often, such things are unpredictable. Statistics show that fire-related injuries and deaths are 4 times more likely to occur in a rental property lacking a smoke alarm installation.

To prevent injuries and accidents, ask your landlord if there’s a fitted CO2 and smoke detector and to inspect their condition. If there isn’t one, require that it be installed. This will ensure your safety while living on the property.

As mentioned, different locations have different requirements for tenant safety. However, in most cases, a CO2 and smoke alarm installation is mandatory, and their installation will help the landlord prevent large fines.

5 Who is responsible for bleeding the radiators?

Many tenants frequently report radiators that are cold at the top, and that usually means they need bleeding due to poor air circulation in the heating. Radiator bleeding is a plumbing task that requires specific skills to be performed safely and correctly. An inexperienced tenant attempting to release the air in the radiators can cause the pressure to drop too low, which will create more issues to deal with. Managing the heating or hot water is a risky situation, and it has the potential to damage the landlord’s equipment and property.

To prevent such complications, it’s recommended to ask your landlord to manually include a clause in the tenancy contract to perform only minor fixes whenever you feel comfortable and confident you can tackle them and specify the range of activities you are and aren’t allowed to do on your own.

As a general rule of thumb, plumbing experts recommend that landlords have the radiators bleeded at the beginning of the tenancy agreement and every time radiator airlocks occur.

Final Words

Whether you’re a first-time renter or already have a substantial experience in the field, it’s in your interest to ask your potential landlord or property management company a few key questions before signing a tenancy lease. Many of them may already be addressed in the contract agreement, but often this process is already stressful, and many people overlook them. That’s why it’s always helpful to have a prepared list of questions. Besides that, don’t forget to communicate with your landlord or property management regularly to ensure your safety and avoid costly repairs or legal repercussions.