Eight Essential Questions To Ask Before Taking the Keys
Buying, or even renting, a new house is an exciting, albeit exhausting, process. There’s so much to organise, plan and pack that often, some of the little things get forgotten. And, admittedly, so do a few of the bigger things as well. It’s also difficult to always know exactly what you’re getting into, and how you could have avoided awkward situations from the beginning.
Luckily, we’re here to help, and so we’ve drafted up a quick guide on what 10 questions you should be asking BEFORE you take the keys to your new pad.
When crisis strikes, you don’t have the luxury of time to allow you to go searching for answers you need. For example, questions such as, where is the electricity meter located, or how do I turn off the water mains? This may be easy to spot in clear daylight, or you might feel a tad silly asking such a question, but the reality is, when you’re stumbling around in the dark, or dealing with a sudden burst water pipe, you’ll be glad you asked.
This same principle applies to asking where one can turn off the gas, and knowing where all the buried pipes are located in your backyard. If you’re unaware where your sewerage pipe runs, for example, you might find yourself in a slightly sticky situation gardening one day.
In these cases, best to be prepared and ask the questions straight off the bat.
Rules regarding decorating
This particularly applies to readers looking at renting a property, as often first-time or young renters are unaware that rules apply in regards to decorating or refurbishing the property. Here, it’s important to remember that while the place may feel like your own house, it is actually owned by someone else who likes the way it was originally.
Some landlords are more relaxed about these rules than others, and some are real sticklers. For example, you aren’t ordinarily allowed to repaint walls or cupboards, but some landlords will allow hangings for pictures, artworks, et cetera.
Just make sure to read the fine print on your lease, and if ever in doubt, ask your landlord personally. We also have a handy guide on the rules of decorating in rental homes.
Parking rules and permits surrounding your apartment
If you’re renting or buying in a large complex, there may only be a limited amount of parking spaces. Although it’s easy to assume you have a spot, some apartment blocks have extensive waiting lists for residents wishing to score a secure park. In this case, you’ll need to ask your landlord or previous owners about street parking, how or where to get a street permit, and any other tips they might have in speeding up the process to getting a secure garage.
This is particularly true if your property is in an apartment block also. When does the garbage go out? What goes in what bin? If looking to dispose of larger items, such as mattresses or white goods, is it acceptable to leave on the curb for the council clean-up, or should you be placing these items in a more discreet spot for disposal?
It pays to ask these questions before you’re moved in, so you know what to expect once you’re calling your new pad ‘home’.
Body Corp details
Again, particularly relevant for apartment renters and/or owners. The Body Corporate sounds scary, but they’re usually fairly easy to deal with. Make sure to brush up on any legislation that is likely to affect you (or ask your landlord to run you through it if you need), and it’s sometimes a nice idea to try and introduce yourself to the head of the Body Corp, if only to add a friendly face to your name.
This one is for the renters amongst us. Before moving in, signing leases or splitting rent, check out how easygoing or strict the landlord is with rent and lease agreements. Will you be allowed a 2 or 3 day leeway on paying rent for the week? And, once your lease is up, will you be expected to sign another 12 or 6 month lease, or can you rent month-to-month after the first year or so?
Knowing this will allow you to plan your life out a little better, and also give you a sense of security in your new property.
Grass, gardens, and gutters, oh my!
Before setting up in your new home, find out who is responsible for managing things like mowing the grass, trimming the weeds and generally managing the outdoor parts of your property.
If this is yourself, happy days (in fact, if you’re renting, you may even be able to negotiate a slightly lower price of rent for these services). If it’s being taken care of by an outside party, it’s a clever idea to find out when these services are scheduled to take place so you can get out of the house during that time.
If you’ve just become a homeowner, carefully consider the suitability of your new place for pets. Polished hardwood floors may not fare so well against a dog or cat’s sharp claws, and your garden fence may look nice standing at 3 foot tall, but I clued-in pet will jump that in a heartbeat.
If you’re a renter, you’re likely to not be allowed pets at all, but find out how strict the ‘No Pets’ rule actually is. Does it extend to pet-sitting your parents’ cat for the weekend? When your friend comes to visit with their Labrador, is the dog disallowed from being inside at all or just not permitted on the couch? Find out how flexible your landlord will be, and avoid an awful conversation afterwards having just broken the rules.