7 Ways to Tell if your Landlord will screw you over
From Mashable.com 8/3/14
Before you put down a deposit, make sure you know what you’re getting into.
There are few things that can ruin your new place as much as not realizing you have a terrible landlord before it’s too late. Even if you snag the apartment of your dreams, a nightmarish relationship with the person overseeing it can have you longing for your old digs and wishing you never left.
But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to situations like these, and recognizing early warning signs is the key to not getting locked into a disastrous apartment.
Here are seven red flags to look out for when dealing with a landlord before it’s too late.
1. The landlord is hesitant to give you enough contact information.
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and putting down a deposit on an apartment, make sure the landlord is easily accessible. If he’s only willing to give you a P.O. box or email address when you’re thinking of giving him large sums of money, he probably won’t be willing to give you more information once he has it.
Make sure your potential landlord gives you plenty of ways to get in touch with him. If not, keep looking.
2. The landlord is evasive about important questions or underplays major problems.
Landlords can be slow to respond to every email and call, whether it’s for legitimate and illegitimate reasons. But when a landlord doesn’t directly address or even respond to your serious concerns, don’t bother going further.
You’re entitled to know about pest problems, plumbing issues and anything else inside a potential new apartment that doesn’t seem right. If you can’t get that information from the landlord, get out of there.
3. The apartment is held together with bobby pins and duct tape.
There’s no shame in renting an apartment that isn’t quite Home and Garden-quality, but if the place is too seedy to be safe, bail. A poorly maintained apartment reflects not only the quality of the pad, but also the landlord’s lack of attentiveness and willingness to keep his property livable.
4. The landlord is willing to take payments in cash or doesn’t actually set up a lease.
While it may seem more convenient and flexible, don’t bite on any deal that doesn’t require you to sign a lease. It’s not only your legal connection to your home, but also your bill of rights if anything goes haywire.
And if the landlord is only willing to take cash, that could be a sign that some other, likely illegal activity is happening behind the scenes.
5. Current tenants have nothing good to say about their landlord.
Naturally, one of the best resources to use when vetting your landlord are the people who are currently living in that building. They don’t have an incentive to lie to you — unlike the landlord — and if their experiences are bad enough, they’d want to make sure no one else suffers the same fate.
6. The deal seems too good to be true.
Sometimes, good things really do happen to good people, but not usually in the form insane discounts on rent in attractive areas. If the landlord is giving you a great deal on rent for an apartment that should be worth much more, it means there’s something you don’t know about it.
7. An online search of the landlord or property management company’s name reveals terrible things.
When in doubt, search. If the landlord is or has been the target of a protest, lawsuit, federal investigation or just a bunch of awful reviews, that’s a pretty clear sign to never rent from him.
Luckily, there are a few websites that will help you weed out the worst landlords and management companies so you can hone in on the best.
ApartmentRatings — as the name implies — features tenant ratings of more than 1 million apartments in cities across the United States. Tenants score buildings on how well they’re maintained, how attentive the service is and a few other factors, including the appeal of the neighborhood.
The website also has information for each building reviewed, like unit size, specifications, rent and building amenities.
MyLandlordScore allows users to search for, review and rate their landlords on professionalism, safety, privacy and several other categories. The site is fairly new and only features apartments in New York at the time of writing, but MyLandlordScore’s easy-to-use and engaging platform gives the website a lot of potential.
Better Business Bureau
Here, you can look up the management company for any apartment you’re looking at and see how many complaints have been filed against it. You can even see the details of complaints, which gives you a preview of what could go wrong, should you decide to rent an apartment from them.