17 important questions to ask a landlord before renting their property
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17 important questions to ask a landlord before renting their property

There is such a high shortage of rental properties in Zimbabwe’s urban areas that most people are just grateful whenever they can find a property that is remotely close to their liking. A lot of tenants are in such a hurry to move in and get it over with that they only start to realise their mistake halfway through the first month when they start running into problems with their new landlords. It doesn’t have to be this way, most of the pain and quarrels can be avoided if you do your due diligence. Today we will discuss some of the seventeen questions you need to ask your prospective landlord before you shake on that deal.

These are:

  1. Do you have to pay a deposit and if so how much is it?

  2. Will your deposit earn interest?

  3. Are utilities included in the rental amount?

  4. Can you pay your rentals through transfer or is it cash only?

  5. Is there a due date when you are supposed to pay your rent? If so, what happens when you exceed it?

  6. How much notice is required when you want to move out?

  7. Do you have to sign a lease agreement or is this going to be just a verbal agreement

  8. Is there a garden and can you make use of it? Who is in charge of the lawn or landscaping?

  9. Are you allowed to repaint some rooms, and drill holes in the walls to attach stuff?

  10. Are you allowed to have pets?

  11. Does the house come with allocated secure parking?

  12. Are there any security systems in place?

  13. What types of locks are in place and can you change these?

  14. Are you allowed to have guests over?

  15. Does the place come with WiFi?

  16. Are there any other regulations you should be aware of?

  17. Does the landlord carry out regular inspections?

Some of the above questions are quite clear enough there is no need to further expand them but some of them deserve a bit of clarification. We will now look at these in detail.

Questions on security deposit

Here is a fun fact, the law in Zimbabwe says landlords are not allowed to ask for a security deposit. The courts have already ruled on this. The thing though is that the Zimbabwe law says a lot of things that are almost always ignored by landlords and other businesses on the ground. You probably do not have time to litigate stuff like this and besides, there is such a short supply of houses you have little leverage on this anyway. The best you can do is get clarification on how much you are going to pay as a deposit, when you are required to pay it and whether you will earn any interest on your deposit. Generally, landlords want a 100% deposit on your rentals if you are renting a flat or full house. Your deposit almost certainly doesn’t earn interest and you will be lucky to get it back when you move out. Most landlords will find an excuse not to pay you back. The longer you stay the more likely you are to never get it back.

Are utilities included in the rental amount?

This is an important question as some landlords include rates, water and electricity in the rental amount while some do not. Generally, landlords on prepaid electricity metres do not include the electricity amount in the rentals while landlords in areas like Mbare where the electrical charge is fixed are quite happy to include electricity. It's important to know what's included and what's not in advance because depending on the answer you get that can lead to massive differences in the total rent you end up paying.

Questions on security

This is one area where tenants fail to do their due diligence. I once moved into a new flat without asking about security. Thieves broke in and stole my 50-inch TV two days later. Turns out the reason why people kept leaving this awesome-looking flat was poor security. A few quarrels later the chastened landlord installed razor wire and an alarm. Needless to say, I never got my TV back and am still living at that address. You do not want to learn from experience as I did. Get ahead of all the possible security issues. For example, even with assurances and secure parking in high-density suburbs, it’s safer to park your car at the local community “garage” where there is security 24/7. Park it in your “secure” garage and you will wake up to find the window broken, the radio, tyres and battery missing.


It is always important to do your due diligence before shaking on or inking that deal. You can spare yourself a lot of heartache and tears if you ask the right questions.