In addition to rent, your cost could include:
- security deposit
- trash removal
- lawn care
Make sure you know all of these costs and can afford them before you agree to rent.
Does the landlord want a security deposit? Does the landlord want first and last month’s rent? Some landlords require first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit. Except in Burlington and Barre, it is legal for the landlord to ask for advance payment of rent.
Will you pay for heat? You don’t get to pick the kind of furnace or fuel, the landlord does. If you are paying for fuel, you have to know how much it will cost to heat the unit.
What kind of fuel? Propane may require you to put a deposit on the propane tank. The electric company could make you pay for electricity in advance. Fuel oil often requires cash at the time of delivery.
What kind of furnace / heating system? A heater in an outside wall that blows hot air into the room may do a good job of heating that room, but does the hot air reach all the rooms of the unit? If there are radiators, are they only on the first floor, but not the second floor? Ask the landlord, and look at the set up. Figure out whether you are going to have to pay to run the furnace all the time to keep the whole unit warm. Note: Space heaters may not be an option. Space heaters that require fuel and are not vented to the outside are against the law. RHHC 7.5. Some electrical systems may not be safe for space heaters.
How well is the unit insulated? You can look yourself: Do you see light around the outside doors? Do the doors and windows close all the way? Does a closed window move if you poke it with your finger? Are there locks to tighten the closed window? Are there storm windows? If you are going to pay for the heat, you want the heat to stay in the unit.
What is the cost of utilities? If you are going to pay for electric, the unit should have its own meter. If several units are on the same meter, don’t agree to divide the cost evenly between the units; the landlord should pay for electricity. If you have your own meter, check to see if common areas lights are run through your unit’s meter.
Will you pay for water / sewer? Don’t agree to pay that bill unless you have your own meter. If you do agree, find out whether the town will put the account in your name. Check whether the landlord owes a back bill.
Will you pay for garbage removal, plowing, lawn care or laundry? Find out what each of these items will cost you.
Look at the above list. All of these go into your budget for the total cost of the unit. Can you really afford the unit?