50 Top Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease or Tenancy Agreement

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

Don’t know what questions to ask before signing a lease or tenancy agreement in Kenya? Read on to avoid being haunted later!

Signing a lease is a big commitment that comes with long-term financial and legal obligations. Before entering any rental agreement in Kenya, it is important to ask the right questions to ensure you fully understand what you’re signing up for. This guide will outline key questions to ask covering everything from lease terms, property condition, utility costs, fees and taxes to help you make an informed decision.

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease Agreement in Kenya

Questions to Clarify Lease Duration & Renewal

  • How long is the initial rental term – 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
  • What are options for renewing the lease after the initial term expires?
  • Is automatic renewal or something that requires negotiating a new lease?
  • How much notice is required from me if I want to end tenancy after lease ends?
  • How much notice is required from you if you want the tenant to vacate after lease expiration?

Knowing necessary logistics upfront regarding length of commitment, renewal procedures and proper protocols for providing notice when wanting to vacate prevents hassles down the road.

Questions About Leasing/Rental Costs & Due Dates

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease
  • What is the monthly rent amount?
  • When is rent due each month – 1st, 5th, 10th etc?
  • Which day is considered “late” if failing to pay on the due date?
  • Is there a grace period before issuing late fees? If yes, how long?
  • What late penalties apply if missing due date – flat fee, daily interest?
  • By which method(s) can rent be paid – cash, cheque, bank transfer etc?

Understanding precise rent expectations, payment processing details, deadlines and ramifications for submitting rent past due date allows you to set up proper procedures for timely payment dispatch.

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Questions on Security Deposit & Other Upfront Fees

  • Is a security deposit required? If yes, what amount?
  • What specifically is the security deposit intended to cover upon move out?
  • Under what timeline and conditions will the deposit be returned when I vacate premises?
  • Are there any other applicable move-in fees outside security deposit? If yes, define these.
  • Is the first month’s rent expected before move-in on top of the security deposit?

Don’t let surprise expenses broadside your moving budget. Know all deposits, administrative charges and initial rents owed so you can prepare funds accordingly.

Questions to Evaluate Property Condition & Repairs

  • May I conduct a thorough walkthrough inspection of the unit before signing the lease?
  • How would you rate the current condition – new, good, fair, poor?
  • Have there been any recent or scheduled renovations or repairs?
  • Who handles and pays for repairs while renting – big stuff like appliances vs minor holes in walls etc?
  • How are repair requests submitted and addressed – via email, mobile app, calling property manager?
  • Usually how long does it take for repairs to get addressed after submitting requests?

Vetting the level of cleanness, maintenance issues and overall condition before committing enables you to make necessary fixes or clean yourself ahead if the landlord won’t. Also understand protocols and typical timeframes for addressing unit issues.

Clarifying Guest & Sublet Policies

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease
  • Are overnight guests permitted? If yes, what restrictions apply – nights per month etc?
  • Is subletting rental or renting rooms out allowed? If yes, any specific stipulations?
  • Do you need landlord notification or approval for long term guests or subletters?
  • Could lack of notification or approval of guests/subletters be considered breach of lease terms?

Some landlords prohibit roommates or subletters unless meeting certain qualifications first or charge added fees. Ensure you are clear on rules pertaining to other occupants.

Understanding Utility Setup & Costs

  • Which utilities will I pay for directly as the tenant – electricity, water etc?
  • What has been the average monthly cost for any tenant-paid utilities?
  • Do you handle setting up utility billing accounts before move-in or is that my responsibility?
  • Is electricity or water ever shared with other units that I would split costs on?
  • Does the unit require obtaining renter’s insurance policy? If yes, what amount of coverage?

Avoid budget shock, understanding what utilities cost on average, clarifying who sets up billing setup plus checking if shared metering splits mean covering neighbors. Also find if insurance is required.

Questions About Amenities & Parking

  • What amenities are included – gated access, pool, gym etc? Which if any cost extra fees?
  • Are amenities shared with the entire apartment community or private to this rental unit?
  • Is parking included? Is it assigned spot, general permit or street parking only?
  • If parking was not included originally, is paying extra for a spot an option?
  • Is additional storage space like garage, shed or locker available? Extra fees?

Beyond actual units, determine extent of access or shared use of community facilities that may impact experience plus parking logistics.

House Rules & Restrictions Questions

  • Is smoking prohibited in rental units and all community areas?
  • Are pets allowed? Specific restrictions around type, size, breed etc? Any pet deposits or fees?
  • Any restrictions pertaining to noise levels, parties, music and general “disturbance of peace”?
  • Are there designated quiet hours I must comply with? If yes, what times.
  • Any other notable community rules or unit restrictions I should know?

Ask for printout of bylaws, community guidelines and any condo/HOA type restrictions to peruse before signing so fully aware of dos and don’ts governing premises.

Understanding Maintenance Access Protocols

  • Under what circumstances would you or maintenance staff require access to the rental unit?
  • How much notice do you provide tenants before entering a unit for repairs or inspections?
  • Do you have a spare set of keys or utilize universal master keys for all units?
  • Can I opt to change unit locks and not provide copies of new keys?
  • Can I install a security system, smart locks or other custom access methods limiting master key use?

Inquiring protocols, keys policies and options for managing unit access provides insight on privacy, security precautions and pieces of mind while renting.

Questions about lease termination

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease
  • Under what conditions could I legally break the lease early without penalty?
  • What costs are involved if I break lease early without one of those approved conditions happening?
  • Could extended military deployment orders or employer transfer require you to let me exit without a typical early termination penalty?
  • How much notice would you require from me when requesting early lease termination?

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst by investigating rules and costs around early exit from rental in case plans shift unexpectedly during lease span.

Inspecting Property Thoroughly Before Signing

  • May I schedule an inspection walkthrough with the landlord first before submitting the application or signing?
  • Would you provide a copy of the lease agreement for review before requiring a security deposit or signature?
  • Are you able to provide contact info for previous tenants so I can inquire about their rental experiences?
  • May I have a detailed listing of all existing defects, damages or needed repairs for documenting pre-existing conditions?

Do your due diligence by thoroughly vetting property and landlord reputation plus completely documenting baseline conditions at move-in to protect your rights and security deposit later.

Importance of Asking Questions Before Signing a Rental Agreement

Asking the right questions before signing a lease or rental agreement is essential to avoid surprises, build a good landlord-tenant relationship, and protect your rights as a tenant. Here are three key reasons you should ask questions upfront:

To Gather Crucial Details About the Property and Lease Terms

Asking questions allows you to collect all the details you need to make an informed decision, including:

  • Rent amount and due date
  • Security deposit and refund policy
  • Utility and amenity responsibilities
  • Appliances and fixtures included
  • HOA or co-op fees and rules
  • Any restrictions on guests, pets, parking, etc.

Having all this information upfront ensures you know exactly what you’re signing up for.

To Demonstrate You Are a Responsible, Proactive Tenant

Asking thoughtful questions shows the landlord that you care about understanding the lease and your responsibilities. This helps:

  • Set positive expectations upfront
  • Build trust and goodwill in the landlord-tenant relationship
  • Make you an attractive tenant candidate

Proactive communication makes for much smoother dealings down the road.

To Protect Your Rights and Interests as a Tenant

Finally, asking questions empowers you to look out for your own best interests, including:

  • Understanding all services and features that you’re paying for
  • Clarifying maintenance, repairs and other landlord responsibilities
  • Ensuring fair treatment regarding lease policies, rent increases, etc.
  • Knowing your options should conflicts arise later on

Informed tenants who know their rights are best equipped to assert them when needed.


The more questions asked upfront, the less surprises down the road! Don’t leave money matters, responsibilities and critical logistic details open for interpretation—comprehensively clarify all tenants rights and lease clauses with laser focus before ever countersigning. Doing so positions you to enter any landlord-tenant relationship in Kenya informed and empowered!

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