If you’re like me, you’ve lived in multiple different apartments in your life. You’ve seen the good, the bad, and if you’ve been unfortunate enough, the ugly. The problem is, the ugly is often disguised, and you won’t recognize it until you’ve actually moved in. It can be a problem with the apartment, a problem with maintenance, or a problem with the landlord. We’re here to give you a few tips to avoid getting stuck in a bad situation.
1. Check The Plumbing
For older homes, plumbing must be thoroughly inspected. I’ve rented a home that was over 100 years old—the sinks constantly backed up or leaked, and even the sewage backed up in the basement. Old cast-iron plumbing can be a major headache, so ask questions before moving in and check the drainage. Do yourself a favor and rent a luxury apartment when possible, as you’re unlikely to run into plumbing issues.
2. Research your Landlord
The same 100-year-old house I lived in had another problem—you guessed it—an unresponsive, combative landlord. While a landlord can conduct a background check on a tenant, we often neglect to do our homework on our landlords. A quick Google search of their name may pull up results, or you can speak with current tenants or nearby neighbors.
3. Read the Lease
You may not have time to check the lease from front to back (you should anyway), but make sure you at least know the basics. How long is your lease? What happens if the lease is broken? Are pets allowed? Who manages maintenance? Be sure to ask if there will be any annual rent increases, too.
4. Know Where your Deposit is Held
Any company that has multiple properties, upscale apartment homes, and an expansive real estate network will likely have their house in order, but a novice landlord with only one or two properties may not. Make sure your security deposit is stored in an escrow account. Also, know your individual state rights; most states require that your security deposit is returned within 30 days if you’ve provided a return address to your landlord.