10 Red Flags to Look for When Apartment Hunting
You can’t get ahold of a property manager to set up a tour
There are several reasons that you may not be able to get ahold of a landlord when you are looking to rent an apartment. Whether it be that they live out of state, overseas, or they are simply too busy – these are all signs that you should move on in your search. If the landlord of a property can not even make the time to show a prospective tenant one of their units, then it is safe to assume that if you had a major issue with your apartment, they would be difficult to get ahold of as well.
Would lease be cancelled if apartment complex was sold?
Something that people often forget to inquire about is what would happen to them if the complex is sold? Will your rental agreement stand, or will you come home to 30 day notice one day and have to figure out where to move in a hurry. If the lease does not already contain a disclaimer about this situation, however unlikely it may be, refuse to sign it until you have a clear answer so that there are no surprises down the line.
Water Stains on Ceilings
Where there is water, there is mold. Do not ignore discoloration on a ceiling! If it looks as though the ceiling has been recently painted, you should ask if there has been any water damage to your until, or the unit above.
A lot of people may feel awkward about opening up cabinets and looking on the top shelf, but you absolutely need to do this! Pests often hide is dark places either down low or up high. If you see bug or rodent droppings, again, you should politely let the landlord know and then move on to looking at an apartment elsewhere.
Unprofessional repair jobs
Landlords are responsible for upkeep at apartment complexes. If you notice that the walls are warped, stained, or have knicks or holes, that is a clear sign of what to expect. You may also notice a sloppy caulking job in the bathroom around a bathtub. These are clear indicators of the kinds of repairs that your landlord deems acceptable.
Shockingly low price
I hate to burst your bubble, but if the price is too good to be true, there is definitely a reason. Your landlord may be hiding issues that either directly correlate with the unit you are renting, like perhaps that a nefarious event occurred there, or the pictures online do not represent the actual unit available for rent. The last thing you want to do is walk into an apartment that is a complete and total mess and have a landlord try to convince you that you are getting a deal. Trust your instincts, because you get what you pay for, or rather, what you do not pay for!
Landlord asks you to pay in cash
No respectable landlord will insist that you pay in cash or a money order. You would be shocked to find out how many scammers are out there that may be taking money and promising units to multiple people, and then are never to be heard from again. Paying with a check is the safest way, because your money is more protected and you can prove that you did in fact pay your rent, if your landlord accuses you of NOT paying. There is absolutely no good reason for a landlord to insist on cash rather than a check.
Neighbors do not have positive things to say
Let’s say that you go to tour the apartment and the landlord seems nice, and the apartment itself is not bad. On your way out, it is worth stopping a tenant if you see one around what they think of the apartment complex. Perhaps there are wild parties that take place several nights a week that the landlord can not seem to get control over, or maybe the landlord is not quite as available and helpful as they seem. It is certainly worth asking someone their opinion of the living conditions you may endure upon your time living there.
Lease mentions mold
Many of us are guilty of not fully reading lease contracts, but you should alter that mind-set today! Some landlords will sneak in a clause that will mention the complex, or your unit in particular has had, or continues to have a mold problem, and basically you are signing that they are not responsible for taking care of the issue. Mold is not just unsightly and smelly, but also extremely hazardous to your health. You should never allow mold to be in your living space as it is toxic and cause serious health issues. If you see mold, I implore you, run as fast as you can!
Landlord will not provide a damage checklist
Prior to signing a lease agreement, your new landlord should be open to doing a detailed walk-thru of the unit you are looking to rent, that way you can assess if there are any damages, whether it be something big, like a leaking shower, or something that is purely cosmetic, such as a small hole in the wall. This is done so that both parties are aware and sign off on any issues and who is responsible for their resolution. If the landlord does not agree to this, they may try to come back later and say that you are responsible for damages.